Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Previewing Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates 9/18/12

Milwaukee Brewers: 74-72
Pittsburgh Pirates: 74-72

Probable Starting Pitchers:
Milwaukee: Yovani Gallardo (15-8, 3.72 ERA, 1.29 WHIP 186.1 IP, 188 K)
Pittsburgh: A.J. Burnett (15-7, 3.66 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 174.2 IP, 157 K)

The Game

The Brewers are about to start their final road trip of the season, and the first stop is in Pittsburgh for an incredibly important three game series against the Pirates. Both teams are in the thick of the second NL wild card slot and both teams are heading in very separate directions.

The Brewers have been the hottest team in baseball over the past month, while the Pirates have floundered into mediocrity, quite similarly to last year when they were in the mix for the playoffs but collapsed at the end of the season.

Because both of these teams are trying to get that last spot, this series could be make or break for each team. The Pirates have the advantage of being at home, and the Brewers have the advantage of finally figuring out how to a play complete game of baseball without the bullpen blowing five-run leads.

Still, the Brewers (like last year) are not that good outside of their home in Miller Park. They are only 28-43 away from Milwaukee, while Pittsburgh is a solid 42-30 at home in PNC Park.

Still, all bias aside, I think the Brewers are going to take this one. Over the past month, the Pirates are a horrible 8-19 overall, while the Brewers are sitting pretty at 21-8. To add insult to injury, the Pirates have only managed three wins in September, two coming against the lowly Houston Astros, and one coming against the equally lowly Chicago Cubs.

A.J. Burnett will be taking the mound for the Pirates in this one, and while he's pitched well over the course of the season, the Pirates are winless in his last five starts.

Meanwhile, Yovani Gallardo is pitching lights out. His ERA is deceptively high, and the Brewers come to play when he pitches. They've won nine consecutive starts with Yo on the mound. He also leads all of the majors with 24 quality starts.

Worth watching is whether or not Ron Roenicke decides to put Corey Hart, who has been having some foot problems, into the lineup for the game today. The Brewers have managed to play well without him, but there's no doubt that I'd rather have Hart and his 27 homers at first over Travis Ishikawa.

This is going to be one hell of a series. The Brewers have been on fire lately, and the Pirates are playing just about as poorly as possible, with very little offensive production.

Brewers pitchers are nailing it, offense has been stellar (especially Rickie Weeks who finally decided to show up this season), and the bullpen has stopped blowing every lead they've been given.

Prediction: Milwaukee wins, Yovani goes at least seven strong innings.

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