After a better than disappointing pair of series, the Atlanta Braves are headed to the heartland to face the Milwaukee Brewers. The Braves are now sitting 6 games back in their sad, feeble division. Milwaukee, on the other hand, are down 18.5 games deep in the basement of the mighty NL Central. When you look at the rosters on these teams, most would not expect to see those results. But for the majority of this season, the Milwaukee lineup has existed in much the same way as the city’s famous beers. Very popular names, but actually very shitty. Yes, despite the Brewers current eight game winning streak, they have been the baseball equivalent of bad, popular beers. At 3B you will find a crushed up can of Schlitz that somebody tried to save for too long. Out in CF, it’s the Beast Milwaukee’s Best, a brilliant brand that goes down as smooth as aluminum. Over in right, well, you get the picture. Their current eight game winning streak means little because it just now makes up for their eight game losing streak back in April. Still outstanding are the seven game losing streak in May and the six game skid from last month. This is a team of big macro-brew induced streaks. And while it’s possible that they are finally getting things together, in all likelihood they are just stocking up cases Beer 30 Light for the impending monthly loss bonanza.
So, what are the Braves chances against this thin, watery team of known entities? Probably about even. Atlanta and Milwaukee match up pretty closely despite name recognition. If Milwaukee were in the NL East, they would probably be in about the same position right now. Both teams have a .301 wOBA, a wRC+ within 3 of each other (Atlanta: 89, Milwaukee: 86), and right at a 4.00 FIP (4.00 and 4.09).
Atlanta will send three youngsters to the mound in 22 year old Matt Wisler and 24 year olds Manny Banuelos and Julio Teheran. And here’s where we start to see some contrast. Milwaukee’s three starters this series have all passed that magic 30 mark. Kyle Lohse (36), Matt Garza (31), and Mike Fiers (30) will toe the rubber for the Brewers. What does all this mean? I don’t know. But you can clearly see there is a a pretty crazy age difference, and maybe you didn’t know that before now. Really makes you think.
That’s not very useful. But that is the nature of these two teams. We can pick them apart and try to figure out how things are going to work each day. We know they will probably both get their 80-90 losses once it’s all finished this year. But when we look at how Manny Banuelos will perform in his second career start or which Julio Teheran will suit up on Wednesday, there is just no predicting the ball. Take the Atlanta bullpen (Please) which has been doing well of late but then yesterday blew the double shutout in the 10th inning against the Phillies. Two of them were DFA’d at the same time. On the other side, you can see the Brewers where they have been battling the worst of luck. We have two teams with frustrated fanbases and wildly unpredictable tendencies.
What I’m getting at here is that we are closing in fast on the portion of the season where we all join with Bill Murray in chanting to ourselves that, “It just doesn’t matter.” But it’s still baseball, and there are some compelling names in these games like Lind, Braun, and Carlos Gomez. There are some exciting youngsters like Wisler, Segura, and Peterson. And despite all their flaws and irritations, the fact that these two teams are so closely matched bodes well for the potential for some fun baseball. So grab a can of Miller High Life or maybe a Terrapin Hi-5 IPA, if you feel like respecting yourself. Drink responsibly, enjoy the baseball, and don’t @ me.