The Milwaukee Brewers (40-45) will host the NL Central division leading Pittsburgh Pirates (48-37) to start the second half of the season. This is a critical series for the Brewers, as it will indicate where they stand amongst the elite team in their division. Meanwhile, the Pirates will look to put more distance between them and the rest of the division.
Friday July 13, 2012
Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.32 ERA) vs. James McDonald (9-3, 2.37)
Zack Greinke will be on the mound to give the Brewers a good start to the second half of the season. Greinke’s days in Milwaukee could be numbered if the Brewers do not string some wins together against division opponents over the next nine games. After getting ejected in Saturday’s game after four pitches, in which he took the loss, Greinke came back Sunday and lasted only three innings. Luckily, Milwaukee was able to defeat the Houston Astros to give him a no-decision.
James McDonald has been fantastic this season and is a huge reason why the Pirates are in first place for the first time in many years. McDonald is coming off of a solid outing in which he struck out a career-high 10 San Francisco Giants batters while issuing zero walks. He went on to win the game after surrendering just one earned run. If Pittsburgh wants to remain in first place, McDonald will have to be one of the leaders who get them to the finish line.
Saturday July 14, 2012
TBD vs. Kevin Correia (5-6, 4.91 ERA)
The Brewers have not yet determined who their starting pitcher will be in the second spot of the rotation but if I had to guess, I would say it is going to be Yovani Gallardo.
Kevin Correia has struggled as of late and will need to improve his outings in order to keep the Pirates atop of the NL Central totem pole. In his last two outings, he has given up eight earned runs on 12 hits in 11 innings pitched while only striking out four batters. However, Pittsburgh is playing so well offensively that Correia actually received victories in both starts.
Sunday July 15, 2012
TBD vs. A.J. Burnett (10-2, 3.68 ERA)
Milwaukee has not yet determined who will start the third spot in the rotation and considering Shaun Marcum is not expected to be back it seems to be a tricky call. If it were up to me, I would put Michael Fiers in the spot since he has been pitching very well. Fiers currently has the lowest ERA on the team (2.31) while posting a 3-3 record in seven starts. I understand he has only pitched 46 2/3 innings this season but that is more than a majority of the relievers. Fiers has proven himself worthy of the starting rotation and I believe he would serve the third spot well.
A.J. Burnett has been outstanding since being traded to the Pirates in the offseason. Although he got roughed up in his last couple outings before the All-Star break, Burnett has been spectacular overall and is one of the main reasons the Pirates are playing so well. He has allowed only 20 earned runs this season in 61 1/3 innings pitched while striking out 48 batters over that span. There are certainly times where he allows batters to reach base frequently but he usually shuts it down quickly.