After finishing up a quick road trip, the Milwaukee Brewers will head home to begin a critical series against the Chicago Cubs. With just six games left against the Cubs this season, this series is a must-win for the Brewers.
If the Milwaukee Brewers have any hope of winning the division, they need to at least win the series but more than likely a sweep is required. If not, Milwaukee’s path to the playoffs will be via a Wildcard birth.
In this series the Brewers will be facing Cole Hamels, followed up by Mike Montgomery and finally Jose Quintana in the series finale. All of which are lefties so we can anticipate Brewers manager Craig Counsell putting out a right-handed heavy batting lineup. Now let’s take a more in depth look at these three pitchers!
Hamels had a rough start to his season when he was with the Texas Rangers. Through the first half of the season Hamels had a 5-8 record with a 4.36 ERA. This also includes a very rough July where he went 1-3 with an 11.12 ERA just before he was traded to the Cubs.
However, the change in scenery has done wonders for Hamels. Since arriving to Chicago he’s gone 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA and a WHIP at 1.00. Hamels has been a big contributor to the Cubs hot August that they were able to put together.
Hamels go to pitch is his four-seam fastball that he throws in the low 90s and it has little movement. He will also mix in a cutter, change-up and sinker as well. With the cutter and change-up, Hamels generates a lot of swings and misses from the batters that he faces. While the slider results in a lot of ground ball outs.
When not pitching at his best, Hamels tends to give up the long-ball. So far this season he’s given up 23 home runs to his opponents. This plays in to the Brewers strengths as they’re one of the top teams in the NL in home runs hit. Also factoring in the hitter friendly Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers will look to put up some potentially big innings on Hamels.
Another key for Milwaukee will be getting to Hamels early. In the first inning this year, Hamels has an ERA of 5.26. The Brewers will have a much better chance of winning if the top of the order can get to Hamels right away. After the first inning he settles down and becomes much more difficult to get hits on.
Game two starter for Chicago will be fourth year player, Montgomery. Coming into this game, Montgomery has a record of 4-4 and an ERA of 3.82. His most recent start against the Atlanta Braves was his first since coming off of the disabled list. Montgomery got off to a good start in his first appearance back but was eventually roughed up in the fifth, surrendering three runs before he was taken out.
Montgomery’s two main pitches are a slider that reaches the low 90s and a curve ball that he throws in the high 70s. He will also mix in a four-seam fastball and a change-up as well. Montgomery is able to locate all four of these pitches low in the zone and generates a lot of groundball outs.
A result of locating his pitches low in the zone and creating a lot of groundballs, is that Montgomery has given up just 7 home runs in his 103.2 innings pitched. This could be problematic for the Milwaukee Brewers, as they score many of their runs from the long-ball. Instead they will have to make sure they are getting runners on base and manufacturing runs in order to score.
Opposing teams have been able to do a lot of their damage on Montgomery during their second time through the order. In the fourth inning this year Montgomery’s ERA jumps, once the batters have seen him once, they have a much better feel for his pitches and are able to take advantage.
Quintana will enter the final game at 11-9 on the year with an ERA of 4.21. Over his previous two starts, he’s been pitching well. Throwing 11 innings and giving up just three runs while striking out nine batters. Quintana will look to continue building on those strong starts against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Quintana’s two favorite pitches to throw are a four-seam fastball that reaches the low 90s and a curveball. His fastball has less movement than other left-handed pitchers who throw the same pitch and he is able to generate a lot of fly-ball outs with his curve ball. Another two pitches that he will mix in are a sinker and a change-up. His sinker does not have much sinking action, while his change-up is thrown very hard in the high 80s and produces a lot of ground ball outs.
The Brewers will want to remain patient at the plate with Quintana. He has surrendered 61 walks on the season, which is sixth most in the NL up to this point. If Milwaukee can take advantage of Quintana’s control issues, they should be able to put a number of runners on the bases that will hopefully lead to them generating runs.
The Cubs may have to head to bullpen early with Quintana on the mound. Once batters see his pitches for a second or third time, his ERA jumps. In the fifth inning this year, Quintana has an ERA of 6.55. The second time through the order, Milwaukee will be looking to hit Quintana hard and make it an early departure for him.
The Cubs will come into Milwaukee playing great baseball. Over the months of July and August, they boast a record of 33-20 and have a comfortable lead in the NL Central. If the Milwaukee Brewers are going to make a run at the division title, this is a series they will need to take advantage of. And in order to do so, the Brewers offense is going to have to be playing well with these three pitchers on the mound.