The Brewers' old NL West foes have slithered (gratuitous puns!) their way into town for a three-game set that kicks off a seven-game homestand. The 38-37 D-Backs have put together a nice June: they entered the month six games under .500 and have gone 15-9. They two games over following a sweep of the Cubs before dropping a series in Atlanta. The Brewers also entered June six games under but have gone 11-13, putting them at seven games under. They will look to slow Arizona's momentum at Miller Park, the site of three very memorable games in each franchise's history last October.
Probable starters are: Wolf vs. Ian Kennedy tonight, Fiers vs. Wade Miley tomorrow evening, and Gallardo vs. Josh Collmenter on Sunday afternoon.
In watching this NLDS rematch, please consider the following:
Who wins a one-run game between these two? We all know how many agonizing, one-run defeats the Brewers have suffered lately. And while the D-Backs haven't suffered quite as many, they've had their troubles in close ballgames too. The 2011 D-Backs and Brewers squads were very similar in that they both won a disproportionate number of one-run games (ARI went 28-16, MIL went 30-18), which caused both teams to outperform their Pythagorean record by six wins. This year each club has come crashing back down to earth and are losing most of those contests (ARI is 8-12, MIL is 12-16). Thus, each team is underperforming their Pythagorean record (ARI by one game, MIL by two). Of course, the Snakes have allowed 27 less runs, accounting for record differential. This series will probably come down to bullpens (gulp): Arizona's relief corp ERA of 3.62 is nearly one full run better than Milwaukee's (4.58). Their 'pen also has the lowest BB/9 of any NL staff.
Time to solve the Collmenter riddle. Josh Collmenter returns to the rotation on Sunday after the Snakes lost #2 starter Daniel Hudson to the dreaded torn ulner collateral ligament (meaning he's headed for Tommy John surgery). He's making his 6th start after being demoted to the bullpen with an 8.46 ERA in 5 starts. Collmenter has never struck me as a particularly good pitcher: a junkballer with middling stuff and poor velocity who gets by fooling hitters with his unusual over-the-top-delivery. Much to my chagrin, he sure did own the Brewers last year though with 14 scoreless innings in two regular season starts, and 7 two-hit innings in a 8-1 victory in NLDS Game 3. Largely a two-pitch guy (his a curveball makes up only 5.6% of his total pitches thrown), Fangraphs Pitch F/X rates Collmenter's fastball and changeup (his best pitch) significantly less this year, perhaps meaning that teams figured out his delivery and have uncovered the mediocre pitcher beneath. Can the Brewers be one of them?
Just bein' Miley. If I'm the first person on the web to make that pun, I'll be thoroughly disappointed. Anyway, in each of his last four starts, Saturday's starter Wade Miley has gone seven innings or more and given up exactly one run. Fangraphs likes his slider (5.9 runs above average), which always gives Brewers hitters trouble. With a 9-3 record and a 2.19 ERA, it looks like the race for NL Rookie of the Year is between him and Bryce Harper.
I've got a bad feeling about this... Current Diamondbacks have a .333/.397/.597 career line against tonight's starter Randy Wolf, and has given up 2 HR apiece to Chris Young, Justin Upton, and Ryan Roberts. Uh-oh. Hopefully, pitching away from the Chase Field International Spaceport will help Wolf out.
If you find any Wade Miley-Miley Cyrus related puns on the net, please forward them to me post-haste! Or, you know, just leave them in the comments.