The Diamondbacks appear to have some hope and fight left in them, as they took two out of three in San Diego to secure just their second series win of the year. Arizona has now split their last ten games, and have improved to 8-8 (.500) on the road. They also had their second three-game winning streak in a span of two weeks, taking the opening two games of the Padres series after closing off the series against Colorado with a walk-off. The improvement of the starting pitching for Arizona has appeared to solidify itself as more than just a trend, especially with the turnarounds of Bronson Arroyo and Brandon McCarthy.
Arroyo was stellar in Arizona's 2-0 win Friday night, giving up just three hits in seven shutout innings, and McCarthy almost led the team to their second straight shutout, mirroring Arroyo's performance with seven shutout innings, giving up just three hits. Arizona also reached double digit wins for the season during the last series, moving to 11-23 on the season. Despite their strong performance in San Diego, the Diamondbacks still dropped to 10.5 games back of the Giants, who have won five straight.
For all the disappointment that the Diamondbacks fans have suffered through this season, the Brewers fans have experienced just as much success and surprise. After bottoming out to a disappointing 2013 season marred with the Ryan Braun Biogenesis scandal and suspension, the Brewers have jumped out to a 21-11 start and a five game lead in the NL Central. The reason why? Pitching. The Brewers have baseball's third best team ERA (3.01), surrendering just a .226 batting average and striking out 269 batters. They're even better at home, with a league-best 2.28 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP.
The Brewers come into Monday's series after dropping three of four games in Cincinnati and having split their last ten games. They'll host Arizona to open up a nine-game home stand against the Diamondbacks, Yankees, and the Pirates. Milwaukee is 9-6 at home this season, and will look to expand their lead in the NL Central, where they currently lead the second-place Cardinals by a wide margin (five games).
On The Mend
Diamondbacks right hander Trevor Cahill is day-to-day while dealing with flu-like symptoms that kept him unavailable for Sunday's 4-3 loss, according to the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro.
Arizona center fielder A.J. Pollock missed his third straight game on Sunday, and is day-to-day with a groin injury, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. Right fielder Gerardo Parra is playing through the pain but day-to-day with an elbow injury after being hit by a Rex Brothers pitch Wednesday, according to Dbacks.com.
Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with an oblique strain. Braun is hitting .318 on the season with six home runs and 18 RBIs in 22 games.
The Diamondbacks recalled outfielder Alfredo Marte from Triple-A Reno Friday; in response, they optioned outfielder Tony Campana to Triple-A Reno.
The Brewers recalled left fielder Logan Schafer from the 15-day disabled list Friday, taking Ryan Braun's spot on the 25-man active roster after Braun was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain.
Can't Close The Brewery (Or Can They?)
Despite the Brewers' strong starting pitching, the return of Braun and the emergence of Carlos Gomez (.280/.338/.538 with seven home runs, 17 RBIs, four stolen bases), the lurking issue of late has been the team's bullpen. The Brewers have had one of the best bullpens in baseball so far this season, posting a 2.99 ERA with a league-leading 15 saves on the campaign. Closer Francisco Rodriguez has been by far the best closer in baseball, posting an ERA of 0.00 with 14 saves and 24 strikeouts (12.71 K/9) in 17 appearances in 2014.
Yet, the Brewers bullpen seemingly fell apart during their last series in Cincinnati, as they dropped three of four games. Entering Sunday, the Brewers bullpen had given up ten earned runs in their last 11 innings pitched, losing two of three games in that span. On Sunday, the bullpen gave away the lead in the eighth innings, then lost the Brewers the ballgame in the tenth inning to close the series with consecutive losses. While the bullpen is expected to return to its elite-level norm, it will be interesting to see how they can bounce back against Arizona when they return to Miller Park.
Game 1, Monday 7:10 CT: RHP Mike Bolsinger (1-1, 5.79 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Garza (1-3, 5.00 ERA)
Bolsinger will be making his fourth major league start on Monday after giving up four earned runs on nine hits in five innings and picking up a no decision his last outing against Colorado. He won in his only other start against an NL Central opponent, tossing 6.2 shutout innings against the Cubs on April 24th. Despite the high ERA, Bolsinger has had a solid start to his MLB career, positing a fielding independent pitching (FIP) stat of 3.30 in 18.2 innings pitched this season. Ever since giving up one run on two hits in eight innings on Opening Day, Garza has struggled. The free agent acquisition this offseason is making his first start since lasting just three innings before being removed with a thumb injury against the Cardinals. Garza has posted a FIP of 3.92 so far in 2014, but has been walking batters at his highest rate (3.0 BB/9) since his 2010 season with Tampa Bay. The right hander is 3-1 with 2.84 ERA in four career starts against Arizona.
Game 2, Tuesday 7:10 CT: RHP Josh Collmenter (1-2, 3.77 ERA) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (2-1, 3.13 ERA)
Collmenter ground his way through seven innings his last time out, giving up four runs in his first three innings but rebounding with four shutout innings to close out the ballgame. It marked the third straight solid outing for Collmenter, bumping his ERA below four and his FIP to 4.33 on the season. Collmenter has had great success against the Brewers in his career, with a 1.23 ERA. Estrada has been among the great starting pitching for the Brewers this season, reaching the sixth inning in all but one start this season and giving up less than three earned runs in each outing in 2014, posting a FIP of 4.64.
Game 3, Wednesday 12:10 CT: RHP Bronson Arroyo (2-2, 6.03) vs. RHP Wily Peralta (4-1, 2.04)
Arroyo has bounced back to his strong form in his last two outings, finally looking healthy and giving up just two earned runs in his last two starts, including giving up three hits in seven shutout innings and striking out a season-high six batters. Arroyo has bounced back to a 5.15 FIP, and has reached at least the fifth inning in his last three starts. Peralta has been lights-out in 2014, giving up three earned runs or less in every start this season, holding batters to a .218 batting average and a 3.92 FIP in 2014. Last time out, he three eight shutout innings and drove in the only two runs in the Brewer's shutout win.
It's tough being optimistic for the Diamondbacks as they (with Major League Baseball's worst record) take on the team with the best record in baseball, but I do think that the Diamondbacks can sneak a game out of this three game set to keep up their solid road trip. I think their best shot should come Tuesday with Collmenter taking the bump, as he has been solid in each outing he has had this season. While Estrada has done well this season, I'm confident that Collmenter can go up against this Braun-less Brewers lineup and give up just two or three runs over six innings, which always puts your team in solid position to win the ball game. While Garza has had his struggles this season, I feel his history against the Diamondbacks means something and that he is due for a solid outing. While Arroyo has looked great in his last two outings, I'm simply not convinced that this Diamondbacks lineup can get anything going against a guy with Peralta's nasty stuff.