The rubber game of this three-game set between the Brewers and Cardinals is set to take place tonight after the Brewers bounced back from a 17-run loss to pick up a win last night. We’ll preview the game before going over my play for the first five innings.
Being able to bounce back from a 17-run blowout in the first game of a series by winning a 3-2 pitcher's duel is one of the best examples of the unpredictability of baseball. On Monday, the Brewers bullpen allowed 11 earned runs in 2 ⅓ innings, and last night they allowed just one earned run after Wade Miley left the game in the second inning.
Milwaukee will need their starter, Corbin Burnes, to give them some length tonight since they did use six relievers in yesterday’s game, but that should not be a problem for him. In seven starts and 39.7 innings, the right-hander has pitched to a 3.86 ERA with 32 strikeouts and 14 walks. Burnes has turned in three straight starts in which he’s thrown six innings, struck out at least five, and allowed two or fewer earned runs.
Burnes will face a Cardinals lineup that had nowhere near the same production level they put up on Monday, as they ended yesterday's game with seven hits, nine strikeouts, and 20 runners left on base. That said, though, yesterday was just the second time over their past ten games that they have scored less than four runs in a game, and they are still 8th in the league in BAbip.
St. Louis will send another left-hander to the mound tonight in Matthew Liberatore. This will be Liberatore’s first start in the Majors this season. He had been forcing the Cardinals' hand to give him another shot at the bigs with how he was performing in Triple-A. In 46 innings with the Memphis Redbirds, the lefty had 56 strikeouts, 17 walks, and a 3.13 ERA.
The total for the first five innings is currently set at 4.5, and I’ll be taking the under as my play in this one. Not only are the Brewers 28th in average runs per game in the first five innings on the road at 1.76 runs, but they also face a lefty starter today, and they are hitting .218 against lefties this season.
If Matthew Liberatore can carry his success from Triple-A into today, then the Brewers' struggles against lefties will likely continue. St. Louis does an excellent job with player development, so I trust they were waiting until they saw something specific from Liberatore before they brought him back up. Seeing he had an expected FIP in Triple-A of 3.34 and the difference between his strikeout percentage and walk percentage was 21.1%, I think he can turn in a solid outing for St. Louis today.
On the other side of the field, Corbin Burnes has a 2.84 career ERA against the St. Louis Cardinals with 93 strikeouts in 69.2 innings. The Brewers are also 10th in average runs allowed over the first five innings. Burnes should be able to keep them on that pace, as he is in the 79th percentile in barrel percentage, 57th percentile in hard hit percentage, and 73rd percentile in expected batting average.
F5 Under 4.5