Brewers vs Diamondbacks

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The Brewers fared well in the first leg of their measuring stick road trip out west, taking three of four from the Colorado Rockies, with the only loss coming on a night they had to make a spot start due to the illness of Chase Anderson.

They now head to Arizona to face the NL-West leading Diamondbacks, who are in the middle of a challenging stretch of their own. In their past 16 games, they’ve had to face the Dodgers and Nationals twice with a three-game series against the Astros thrown in for good measur

They’ve gone 7-9 in that stretch, but it only looks that bad after getting swept by the Nationals in a four-game series the second time around, and they’re now on a 5-game losing streak. The schedule doesn’t get much easier for them in the next couple weeks, with their two series against the Brewers sandwiched around a trip to New York to face the Mets.

Expected to be a strong offensive team, the losing streak is the result of the bats going cold. They scored a total of 7 runs in 4 days against the Nationals, which can tend to happen against that pitching staff, and 4 of those runs came yesterday. Arizona’s dead last in the majors in batting average, 26th in on-base percentage, and 23rd in slugging percentage.

It’s fair to wonder how much of that is on the players themselves, and how much the new humidor at Chase Field is affecting the offense there. The fact that the Diamondbacks’ pitching has been excellent — 2nd in ERA, 3rd in WHIP, 3rd in batting average against — might point towards the humidor theory having some merit.

Friend Zack Greinke is still going pretty strong at age 34. Despite a spring training that had some concerned about his velocity, he’s still been largely good this year outside of a couple of outings where he’s been touched up for 5 runs. His past few starts have been very good, though, allowing just 4 runs in his past 18.2 innings, including him striking out 10 Dodgers on April 30th and putting up 7 innings of 1-run ball in his last start against the Nationals in what would be a 2-1 Arizona loss.

Koch’s last three starts have come against Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, but he’s tried to make the best of it. He’ll carry a 2.43 ERA into this series, although the underlying numbers say that should be a good amount higher — his FIP is 4.89 — due to the facing he’s only struck out 20 and walked 8 while giving up 25 hits in 33.1 innings. He doesn’t throw very hard — he’s averaging just under 92 mph on his fastball — but he’s been able to induce some weak contact and has scattered the hits he has allowed.

Milwaukee’s relievers have thrown 158 1/3 innings, third in the NL, and setup man/part-time closer Jeremy Jeffress is among the league leaders with 22 appearances. Josh Hader has been spectacular in moving into the closer’s role in the absence of injury Corey Knebel.

New Arizona closer Brad Boxberger is tied for second in the league with 11 saves, and he is one of six Arizona relievers with at least 18 appearances.“The bullpen has been critical to our success and will continue to be,” Arizona general manager Mike Hazen said earlier in the season.Arizona left-hander Patrick Corbin (4-0) will oppose the Brewers‘ Junior Guerra (3-2) on Monday.

Milwaukee has won eight of its last 12, including an 11-10, 10-inning victory at Colorado on Friday in which the Brewers overcome a 9-3 deficit. Hader and Jeffress have three saves apiece in the current stretch, and nominal closer Knebel has just returned after missing almost five weeks with a hamstring injury.

“Our model for our bullpen this year is a little different from the conventional model,” Brewers general manager David Stearns told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We’re not going to have as many appearances as some other teams. We are asking our pitchers to go a little bit longer.”

The Brewers took three of four from Colorado when rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta struck out 13 in 5 2/3 innings of his major league debut in a 7-3 victory Sunday. Peralta utilized a low-90 mph fastball that he was not afraid to throw up in the zone.

Arizona has lost five in a row for first time this season after being swept by Washington over the weekend. The Diamondbacks have lost eight of 11.

Diamondbacks’ setup man Archie Bradley suffered his first loss of the season when he gave up a two-run homer to Mark Reynolds in the eighth inning of a 6-4 loss to the Nationals on Sunday. He entered with a 1.29 ERA in 20 appearances.

“As good as we have been out of the bullpen, it kind of startles you especially where it is Archie who has been throwing the ball extremely well,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.

Corbin, who has a 2.12 ERA, has had his most success at home this season. He is 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA in five Chase Field starts, with 44 strikeouts and six walks. He gave up one hit in 7 1/3 innings of a victory against the Dodgers on April 4 and gave up only a check-swing single in his first career shutout in a 1-0 victory over San Francisco on April 17.

Guerra has lost his last three starts, having given up 10 runs in 16 innings. He is 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA in two career starts against Arizona, both coming in 2017. He gave up three runs in six innings while taking a 3-2 loss in his appearance at Chase Field.

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