8:10 PM EST – Line: Brewers -174, Over/Under: 9.5
A potential Playoff Preview is on tap from Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as the surging Atlanta Braves battle the Milwaukee Brewers in the Second Leg of a Three-Game Series. No team entered the All-Star Break with more momentum than the Braves (57-37, 1st in NL East), who went an MLB-best 20-8 in the month of June, and have now won Seven of Nine Games in July, including each of their first three after the All-Star Break. For a while, it certainly seemed ridiculous that any team would come close to catching the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Standings, but if Atlanta manages to keep this up, then earning Home Field throughout the National League Playoffs can’t be ruled out. They certainly have the Offense to do it, with Brian Snitker’s charges making plenty of noise at the plate, ranking First in the National League in Runs Scored (503), Second in On-Base Percentage (.337), Slugging Percentage (.464), and OPS (.801), and Third in Batting Average (.263), Hits (847), and Home Runs (148). Fresh off his fourth All-Star Selection, Freddie Freeman (.302 BA, 92 G, 110 H, 70 R, 25 2B, 23 HR, 68 RBI, 47 BB, 77 K) has authored a bonafide MVP-caliber season thus far, on pace to shatter his career-highs in Home Runs (23) and Runs Batted In (68), while reigning National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr. (.289 BA, 92 G, 107 H, 70 R, 12 2B, 23 HR, 55 RBI, 13 SB, 42 BB, 102 K) earned his first nod to the Midsummer Classic, leading the club with Seventy Runs Scored, Twenty-Three Home Runs, and Thirteen Stolen Bases. This club has done a remarkable job of developing their young talent, with a slew of Under-30s making quite the impression, with the likes of Ozzie Albies (.291 BA, 92 G, 105 H, 57 R, 21 2B, 14 HR, 50 RBI, 31 BB, 61 K) and Dansby Swanson (.276 BA, 91 G, 96 H, 60 R, 20 2B, 17 HR, 57 RBI, 31 BB, 75 K) providing plenty of power in the Batting Order, while the Rotation has ben headed a trio of young arms, including Julio Teheran (5-6, 3.71 ERA, 20 GS, 106.2 IP, 89 H, 44 ER, 13 HR, 52 BB, 97 K, 1.322 WHIP), Mike Soroka (9-1, 2.42 ERA, 15 GS, 89.1 IP, 73 H, 24 ER, 4 HR, 21 BB, 73 K, 1.052 WHIP), and Max Fried (9-4, 4.29 ERA, 18 GS, 98.2 IP, 110 H, 47 ER, 13 HR, 29 BB, 97 K, 1.409 WHIP). Heading to the mound tonight for the Braves is Bryse Wilson (1-0, 6.14 ERA, 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 16 H, 10 ER, 3 HR, 7 BB, 15 K, 1.568 WHIP), who after being called up in the latter stages of the 2018 campaign, has been injected into the equation much earlier this season. Indeed, Snitker has designs on the young hurler featuring far more prominently as Atlanta continue their trek towards a second straight NL East Title. The aggressive young Righthander has made Four Starts already thus far, and while he certainly needs to refine his control, there is no denying his stuff, for he is averaging 9.2 Strikeouts per Nine Innings. When we last saw him, Wilson authored his first Quality Start of the term, allowing a pair of Earned Runs on Five Hits with Five Strikeouts opposed to Two Walks over the duration of 6.0 Innings in a 9-2 Victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. It remains to be seen exactly where Snitker will utilize him moving forward, for the back end of the Rotation has seen it’s share of injuries, though h could certainly prove to be an asset in the Playoffs coming out of the Bullpen.
Meanwhile, while their counterpart has been arguably the hottest team in the Majors for well over a month now, the Brewers (48-46, 2nd in NL Central) have been quite the opposite. After a 38-28 start to the season, Milwaukee has struggled greatly of late, heading into the All-Star Break losers of Eleven of Eighteen Games, dropping them from their perch in the National League Central, and altogether threatening to pull them out of the conversation for one of the league’s Wild Cards. There is no doubt that Craig Counsell had hoped that the All-Star Break would be used as an opportunity for his charges to refuel for the stretch run, but that hasn’t been the case for the club emerged from the intermission losing two out of three at home against the San Francisco Giants. After coming within a game of the World Series a year ago, this is now a team that definitely needs to flesh out their Batting Order with a little more substance for they’ve been too much style this season, ranking First in the National League in Home Runs (156) and Stolen Bases (60), while lagging in other areas such as Batting Average (.248, 9th in NL) and Strikeouts (889). Reigning NL MVP, Christian Yelich (.328 BA, 84 G, 103 H, 67 R, 18 2B, 31 HR, 67 RBI, 21 SB, 52 BB, 72 K) is having an arguably better season than they one that earned him the prestigious award in the first place, leading the National League in Home Runs (31), Stolen Bases (21), Slugging Percentage (.701), and OPS (1.130), while on pace to shatter his career-highs in both categories by a wide margin, along with Batting Average (.328), of which he led the League in 2018. Heading to the mound tonight for the Brewers will be Brandon Woodruff (10-3, 3.67 ERA, 18 GS, 108.0 IP, 98 H, 44 ER, 10 HR, 25 BB, 126 K, 1.139 WHIP), who has otherwise held together what has been a rather underachieving Starting Rotation. Milwaukee’s arms rank Twelfth in the National League in Team ERA (4.64), Hits (827), Runs (463), Home Runs (128), and Walks Allowed (318). Granted, plenty of Pitching Staffs have struggled mightily throughout this Home Run Renaissance, and this one is no different, though they’ve helped balance the books to a degree by racking up plenty of Strikeouts (867, 2nd in NL), with the Bullpen doing their best with Twenty-Six Saves (3rd in NL). Woodruff, now in his third season as a Starter has quickly ascended the ranks in the Rotation, asserting himself as a bonafide No. One, while also earning his first All-Star nod last week. We shudder to think where this team would be without the Righthander, who ranks Second in the National League in Wins (10) and Eighth in Strikeouts (126), while averaging a stellar 10.5 Strikeouts per Nine Innings, while posting a serious 5.04 Strikeout/Walk Ratio. Seriously, the Brewers have won in all but Four of his Eighteen Starts, making him an absolute essential piece to whatever success they hope to achieve. However, when we last saw him, it happened to be in one of those Four Losses, though by no means can anyone fault this guy for the performance he authored; Woodruff was once otherwise excellent in what would be a 1-0 defeat, yielding only One Run on Seven Hits over the course of Six Innings, racking up Six Strikeouts in comparison to issuing Zero Walks. He has only faced the Braves once in his career, a No-Decision back on May 19th in which the Brewers earned a hard-fought 3-2 Victory in which the ace gave up a pair of Solo Home Runs, while logging Six Strikeouts with no Walks over Eight impressive Innings.