Friday kicks off a three-game set with MAJOR playoff implications. The Brewers travel to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals in what very well could be a make-or-break series for both teams. Coming into the weekend, the Cards currently hold a four-game lead in the NL Central over both the Brewers and the Cubs. The Cubs and Brewers are also tied for the last National League Wild Card spot with a 78-68 record.
The Cardinals are coming off their first series loss in over a month, as they dropped two out of three games to the Rockies at Coors Field. They did, however, salvage the final game in Colorado, 10-3. The Brew Crew, on the other hand, are piping hot. They have won seven games in a row, including taking three of four from the aforementioned Cubs and four straight from the Marlins.
Adrian Houser will take the mound for the Brewers and make his 15th start of the season after bouncing back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation for most of the season. While his record may not show it as a starter, he has been super-effective since becoming a mainstay in the rotation in late July.
He has gone out and given the Brewers a chance to win every time he gets the ball. In six of his last eight starts, he’s allowed only one earned run. He’s faced the Cardinals twice in just the last couple of weeks and seems to have the perfect recipe on how to shut them down. In those starts, he’s pitched 10 1/3 innings, giving up only two earned runs while striking out eight batters.
Even though Houser is much, much better as a reliever (1.47 ERA opposed to a 4.59 ERA), if he can continue to give the Brewers five strong innings, he gives them a prime opportunity to win.
How is it that at age 38 and in his 14th season in the majors, Adam Wainwright is still so effective? There was some uncertainty if Wainwright would play again, as he has dealt with a fair share of injuries and has seen his ERA go higher every year since 2014. Even still, he re-upped with a one-year deal and has turned in another double-digit win season, the 10th of his career.
At 11-9 with a 4.16 earned run average, Wainwright has been a solid third or fourth starter for the Cardinals behind Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty. And in the most important part of the season, down the stretch in September during a playoff race, Wainwright is turning it up once again. He has thrown back-to-back seven-inning gems against the Giants and Pirates, giving up a total of only one run. In fact, in the second half of the season, Wainwright has shaved a quarter of a run off his ERA.
Batter To Watch
It was hard to see. The potential back-to-back NL MVP Christian Yelich fractured his kneecap earlier this week and is out for the rest of the season. While he won’t need surgery, the Brewers will need someone to step up in his place. Enter the Moose.
Mike Moustakas has been quietly having a good year in Yelich’s shadow. He’s batting .264 with 33 home runs and 81 RBI. On Wednesday, just a day after the Yelich injury occurred, he went 3 for 5 with two home runs and five runs batted in. If the Brewers are going to make this run a reality, he needs to have more games like that.
While Wainwright’s overall numbers scream mediocrity, his home splits are the opposite. He has a home ERA of only 2.43, and every other measurement would indicate he’s pitching like he’s 28, not 38. I’ll take the Cardinals in this one.