The 69-60 Milwaukee Brewers come to Chase Field to play the Diamondbacks in a four game series for Labor Day weekend. Milwaukee is in 2nd place in the NL Central, 6 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals. They also trail the Padres by 2.5 games and the Phillies by 3 games in the wild card race.
Milwaukee is 6-4 in their last ten having just taken two of three from the Pirates, but were just 11-15 for the month of August, losing their grip on a playoff spot in the process.
They have a 105 team OPS+. They’re 2nd in the NL in home runs but 11th in batting average. It’s a balanced lineup with 6 starters between 109-129 OPS+, lead by Hunter Renfroe. Christian Yellich is no longer an MVP candidate level player, batting .261 with 11 homers.
On the pitching side they have a team 105 ERA+, on the strength of their starting pitching, the best of which the D-backs will see this series. Devin “Air Bender” Williams is closing since Josh Hader was traded to San Diego for Taylor Rogers and others.
The Brewers are an above average defensive team, ranking 8th in MLB with +36 rDRS, two slots ahead of the D-backs who are +32.
The 61-68 Diamondbacks have been energized by their core of young rookies and second and third year players. Despite dropping the series finale to the Phillies in an ugly fashion, losting 18-2, thus snapping a 5 game win streak, there are a lot of reasons for optimism in the desert. Top prospect Corbin Carroll was promoted this week and made an immediate impact his first two games. Jake McCarthy has been red hot, as has Daulton Varsho. Alek Thomas has been up and down at the plate but hasn’t taken his issues to the outfield where he keeps making highlight reel plays. The group is running with abandon on the base paths and in the outfield, and overall the team bats have started to come around. While they still rank 13th in the NL in batting average, their .231 mark is a noted improvement from earlier in the year. The team OPS+ is up to 96. A lot of that is due to veteran first baseman Christian Walker who is having the best month of his career, batting .340 with 7 HR and a 1.034 OPS.
The bullpen remains a sore spot, prone to late inning meltdowns one night and shut down innings the next.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Thursday September 1, 6:40 P.M.
RHP Brandon Woodruff, 9-3, 3.31 ERA/3.22 FIP vs. RHP Merrill Kelly, 11-5, 2.97 ERA/3.19 FIP
Woodruff went on the IL with an Ankle injury on May 28th with a 4.74 ERA. He came back on June 28th and since then in 11 starts he’s 4-0 with a 2.35 ERA.
Kelly began each of his last two starts allowing three runs in the first inning before settling down. He’ll hope to get off to a better start in this one.
Friday Sept 2, 6:40 P.M.
LHP Eric Lauer, 10-5, 3.58 ERA/4.79 FIP vs. RHP Zach Davies, 2-4, 3.82 ERA/4.55 FIP
Lauer had a 2.38 ERA on June 5th, but went through a rough patch before settling back down. His FIP is so much higher than his ERA due to 25 HR allowed in in 136 IP. He’s had trouble with walks lately, issuing 23 in his last 46 innings.
Davies is on a solid run of starts, going 5 IP or more each of his last 5 GS, posting a 2.39 ERA in 26.1 IP . He doesn’t wow you with his stuff, but he’s not walking many batters and has been getting a lot of ball in play outs.
Saturday Sept 3, 5:10 P.M.
RH Corbin Burnes 9-6, 2.84 ERA/3.24 FIP vs. LH Madison Bumgarner 6-13, 4.87 ERA/4.70 FIP
Burnes is having a very good season, albeit not as good as his Cy Young campaign from 2021. K’s are down slightly, walks are up a little, but the biggest difference is the HR rate, which has gone from 0.4 HR/9 to 1.1 HR/9. Still a tough customer any time he takes the mound.
Bumgarner’s FIP is finally lower than his ERA, and not in a good way. Much ink has been spilled dissecting his decline. The bottom line is if he does not turn it around very soon, perhaps as soon as this start, he could be removed from the rotation.
Sunday, Sept 4, 1:10 P.M.
RHP Jason Alexander. 2-1, 4.97 ERA/4.81 FIP vs. RHP Zac Gallen 10-2, 2.53 ERA/3.17 FIP
With 8 starts and 7 relief appearances, rookie pitcher Alexander has been moved in and out of the rotation and up and down between AAA and the majors. He’s sinker-slider guy with a low 90’s two seamer. He throws a lot of changeups against left hand batters as well. He has a high 54% ground ball rate.
Zac Gallen has thrown 34 1⁄3 consecutive scoreless innings, and is just 7 2⁄3 shy of Brandon Webb’s franchise record 42. He has finally emerged as the true ace of the staff. This article was written on Wednesday night. I assume by Friday it will be announced that he won the pitcher of the month award.
It should be a good competitive series, and I’m looking forward to watching it.
A Personal Note:
This is my last article for AZSnakepit. I have been presented with an opportunity that I must pursue and that necessitates me stepping away from writing here. There isn’t enough word count to thank Jim properly for supporting me and providing a platform for me to contribute. It’s been a labor of love and I will forever be grateful. I’d also like to thank all my colleagues and all the site members and readers. We’ve had so much fun together and will continue to do so. I’m not disappearing and will still come around to comment and converse. You’re not getting rid of me that easy. :)