Prior to this homestand, you can bet Brewers fans everywhere were saying, “This is where they’re going to get their season turned around.” I’ll admit it: I was one of these fans. But how could you not think that? The Brewers were going to play the Pirates, Cubs, and Padres. The Pirates and Padres are two of the worst offenses in the National League, and the Cubs have been just plain terrible this year. But, did the Brewers capitalize on this chance?
Not in the way they should have, no.
The Brewers finished what could have been an extremely easy homestand- and brought them at least close to .500- with a 5-4 record. By no means is that bad. But, if you consider the caliber of the teams they were playing, it was very mediocre, and could have been a heck of a lot better.
The Crew started the series on a pretty bad note. They were up against the Pirates, who they have absolutely murdered at Miller Park ever since 2007. But that wasn’t the case this time. The Pirates began the series by hammering Randy Wolf, and from there went on to take two of three from the Brewers. The Brewers then took two of three from the Cubs, which was a decent bounce-back. The Brewers finished off the Padres yesterday, and also took two of three from them. So, when you go back and look at it, it was just the Pirates series that killed the Brewers. 6-3 is a lot more different from 5-4 than you think.
But, the Brewers have been given a blessing. They’re being given a chance to reach the .500 mark for the second straight week, and prove that they are in the race to defend their NL Central crown. Their next two series come against the Royals and Twins, two very beatable teams who live near the bottom of the American League right now. Here’s what the pitching matchups are looking like for the Royals series:
Zack Greinke (7-2, 3.13 ERA) vs. Luis Mendoza (2-3, 5.36 ERA)
Randy Wolf (2-5, 5.45 ERA) vs. Luke Hochevar (3-7, 6.57 ERA)
Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.50 ERA) vs. ???
Looking at the matchups, this should be a series sweep (but with the Brewers, it’s never a good idea to assume these things). I know Greinke home-road splits this year will tell you that he’s been a lot worse on the road, but it’s actually been two- maybe three- starts that have killed his road ERA. The first one was his second start of the season, when he gave up eight runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Cubs. Then, there was his disaster start in Arizona (seven runs, 2 1/3 innings). But there are two somewhat legitimate excuses for those outings: Greinke has proven he simply can’t pitch at Wrigley Field, and he’s just historically bad against the Diamondbacks. Other than those starts, he’s been fine on the road. Plus, Kauffman Stadium might still feel like home to him- it’s been a little over a year and a half since his last start with the Royals, the team he started his career with, at Kauffman. Royals outfielder Mitch Maier recently stated that he thinks that the Royals will beat up on Greinke, but I just can’t see it happening. So I think it’ll be a good start for ZG. Mendoza, on the other hand, has bounced back and forth between the Royals’ rotation and bullpen, and is coming back to the rotation to start in place of the injured Felipe Paulino and his 1.67 ERA (thank goodness the Brewers aren’t facing him). Mendoza hasn’t been what the Royals thought he would be this year, and hopefully the Brewers bats can get going against him.
Wolf will start the second game of the series. At first, I was worried about this, like I am for every Wolf start. But, we have to remember that Hochevar is equally as bad as Wolf- if not worse. Hoch has is one of the few starters in the Majors with an ERA higher than Wolf’s, so you’d expect the Brewers to tee off against him.
Marcum will start the last game of the series, and I’m not worried about that at all. Marcum has pitched well all year for the most part, and this start is coming on the road, where he’s especially dominant. He should be pretty familiar with the Royals’ lineup from his time in the AL, and he carved them up during his time with the Blue Jays, with a 3-1 career mark against them, along with a 1.58 ERA. The Royals haven’t officially announced their starter yet, but, judging by the way their rotation works, it should be Vin Mazzaro (2-1, 3.60 ERA). He made himself famous last year by giving up 14 runs in 2 1/3 innings (I think that’s what the final line was), although that may have been one of ex-Brewer manager Ned Yost’s “lessons.” But do I even need to mention that the Brewers will be reuniting with Yost again this series?
Like I said before, this appears to be a sweep-able series. But after this comes the Twins series, who the Brewers already dropped a series to earlier this year at Miller Park. None of the pitching matchups have been announced, but let’s hope the Brewers can take two of three in Minnesota. This would all add up to a 5-1 road trip, which is very wishful thinking. But the Brewers could certainly use it to get back in the race in the NL Central. The Brewers already wasted one opportunity to officially throw themselves back into the pennant race; now they need to use this one correctly.