It’s time to get the bad taste of that last series out of our mouths. What better way to do that then to kick back with a cold one from Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee for a three game series against the division leading Brewers.
The Reds have won 7 of 10 against the Brewers this year, most recently taking two out of three over the 4th of July weekend. Milwaukee has only won two of the 10 games played since leaving Cincinnati. The Reds have gone 6-5 in that same span, picking up 3.5 games on first place.
As Nick Kirby laid out in his weekly Central Intelligence report, everyone else in the division has been winning, too. The Cardinals are tied with the Brewers for first place, while Pittsburgh is in second place and just 1.5 games back.
WHERE TO WATCH
In the Cincinnati market, all three games will be on FOX Sports Ohio. Fox Sports Wisconsin will have the Monday and Tuesday night games. Wednesday afternoon’s game will also be on MLB Network.
The Brewers have been employing essentially the same lineup that we’ve seen this season and are ranked second in the National League in runs scored. Even during their latest 10-game slide, they are averaging over 4 runs per game. Over the 4th of July weekend, the Reds pitching held the Brewers to just 5 total runs.
Carlos Gomez has been bumped up to leadoff from his cleanup spot in the order.
Wily Peralta is having a strong, though sometimes still inconsistent sophomore season for the Brewers. Compared to last season, Peralta’s strikeouts are up a tick and he’s cut his walk rate by more than one full walk per 9 innings from 3.6 BB/9 to 2.4. He made Milwaukee’s last start prior to the break by allowing just one unearned run against the Cardinals over seven innings. But the start prior to that, he allowed 9 runs over 4 and a third to the Phillies. He’s faced the Reds once already this season, holding the team scoreless for 8 innings.
Peralta is basically a two-pitch pitcher, throwing his 95 MPH fastball (which is about 1 MPH faster than last year) about two-thirds of the time. He mixes in a slider about 30% of the time and a change-up for less than 5% of his pitches.
Top Brewers pitching prospect Jimmy Nelson is scheduled to make his 4th major league start on Tuesday. He had one great start against Miami on May 25th (5.2 shutout innings) and one poor start against the Cardinals on July 12th (6 runs over 4.1 innings.) Fangraphs.com described him as being almost ready earlier this season needing to work on consistency, as is true of most young pitchers. His repertoire:
His four-seam fastball sat in the 94-96 mph range with late arm-side movement; he touched 97 three times and reached 98 once. The slider showed sharp horizontal bite in the 85-87 mph range and he wasn’t afraid to throw it, as he used four consecutive sliders to punch out Stassi in the sixth.
Once he started throwing his change, the offering was pretty consistently 82-83 mph except for the 79-mph pitch to Grossman and one other that registered at 80. It doesn’t have particularly impressive movement, but if he can consistently locate the pitch with a 12+ mph differential from the fastball, it’ll play. He also flashed a two-seam fastball three times; it came in at 90-91 mph and showed pretty good sink.
Like Peralta, Nelson has worked primarily with his fastball in the majors, throwing it about two-thirds of the time and averaging about 93.5 MPH. He has used his slider for about one-third of his pitches, though he has occassionally mixed in his two-seamer and his change-up.
In Milwaukee’s only win over the Nationals this past weekend, Kyle Lohse threw seven innings of 1-run baseball on Friday night. Back on the 4th of July against Cincinnati, Lohse allowed four runs over five innings and was credited with the loss.
Lohse tries to keep hitters off balance with a variety of speeds and pitches. He starts with a fastball/sinker at around 90 MPH, which he throws about 40-45% of the time. His slider comes in around 84 MPH, and comprises about one-third of his pitches. He has an 80 MPH change-up and a 75 MPH curveball which he throws about equally the rest of the time.
The Reds need to bounce back from that disappointing weekend in New York. They’ve got three teams ahead of them in the standing, but are still within a 3-game series sweep distance of first place. The Brewers are gasping for air and possibly seeing their names at the top of the division for the last time this season.