Today, the Cardinals begin a three-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park, one of four current MLB stadiums I’ve been to (I’m like one of those people with a checklist of stadiums to visit, but without the ambition to actually make an earnest attempt at all thirty). I saw Bo Hart make his MLB debut there. It was wild.
Back then, the Brewers were extremely bad–this was before Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder and the infusion of young talent that led to the Brewers winning the 2011 NL Central before being vanquished in the National League Championship Series by the St. Louis Cardevilmagics. Their best hitters by far were Richie Sexson, who reminded me of Adam Dunn, and Geoff Jenkins, who reminded me (and the Wisconsin crowd–they loved Geoff Jenkins) of Brett Favre. Tickets were extremely easy to find.
The 2018 Brewers are a much better team, legitimate playoff contenders that currently sit atop the NL Central standings. They still have the aforementioned Ryan Braun, but the team’s best player so far in 2018 has been Lorenzo Cain, acquired via free agency from the Kansas City Royals last off-season, who has been a well above-average hitter in addition to a Gold Glove-caliber defensive center fielder. Christian Yelich, acquired via blockbuster trade from the Miami Marlins, has lived up to expectations as well, possessing an above-average bat in left field.
Third baseman Travis Shaw has been a revelation since he was acquired from the Boston Red Sox before last season. He leads the team in home runs, runs batted in, and despite coming up to the Majors as a first baseman, Shaw has been a plus defender at third base. Shaw was acquired as part of a trade which sent Tyler Thornburg to Boston. Thornburg has yet to throw a pitch for the Red Sox. Oops! Also, he’s Jeff Shaw’s son, which is the next generation of “Tom Gordon is Dee Gordon’s dad” level of weird baseball lineage.
Today’s expected starters are Luke Weaver and Brent Suter. Weaver’s season has been categorized by bad luck–he has a mediocre 4.31 ERA and a much more promising 3.51 FIP. Suter has a worse ERA (4.56) but with a less-promising FIP (4.51). The Cardinals have not announced a starter for Tuesday, but barring a Carlos Martinez DL return, it is Michael Wacha’s spot in the rotation, which would give the Cardinals a pitcher advantage over Zach Davies (4.74 ERA; 4.73 FIP). For what it’s worth, Davies has been much better than this in the past, but I’d still give the Cardinals the pitching edge.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Brewers will pitch Junior Guerra, whose sub-three ERA makes it seem like the Brewers would finally get an edge over the Cardinals, who will be pitching somebody making his 2018 debut. But Alex Reyes has made four minor league rehab starts this season and, um, he struck out 15.26 batters per nine in his worst of the lot. In 23 innings, he gave up zero runs. I fully expect Alex Reyes to throw a perfect game on Wednesday.
Here’s Randall Simon hitting one of the racing Milwaukee Brewers sausages with a baseball bat. This was the weirdest baseball event of my lifetime.