In the middle of one of the closest divisional races in the league, the Milwaukee Brewers have not done a good job of separating themselves as of late. Following their loss yesterday to the Nationals, the Brewers are now 3-7 over their last ten games and have lost three of their last four series. Milwaukee will be back in their home ballpark tonight to host the Pirates, and we’ll preview the series’ opening game before going over my play for the first five innings.
At the deadline, the Pirates made it clear that they are bowing out of the divisional race and giving their young players valuable repetitions. Even with the selling at the deadline, the Pirates have put together a winning stretch over their last ten games, going 6-4; however, they lost 6-3 yesterday to split a quick two-game series with the Tigers. Andrew McCutchen had the best day at the plate for the Pirates yesterday, going 3-4 with an RBI.
Tonight will mark Pittsburgh’s first divisional series of the second half of the season, and getting the start for them will be young right-hander Mitch Keller. After two straight rough outings, Keller got back on track in his most recent start against the Phillies, pitching 5.2 innings and allowing two earned runs. The right-hander last faced the Brewers back on June 17th, and despite racking up seven punchouts in five innings, he would allow four earned runs and take the loss.
Keller gets another shot at a Milwaukee lineup that could only muster up two runs on four hits yesterday. In their 3-2 loss to the Nationals, which lost them the series, Milwaukee was able to get their runs from a Christian Yelich RBI double and Tyrone Taylor home run, but aside from the lack of runs, the Brewers' lackluster defense would lead to their loss. An errant throw with the bases loaded in the ninth would allow two runs to score and hand Milwaukee the loss.
As they look to turn it around and avoid getting jumped by the surging Cubs in the standings, the Brewers will send Adrian Houser to the mound for his 13th start. The right-hander has been struggling lately, allowing 12 total earned runs over his last three starts, bringing his ERA to 4.43 over 67 innings of work.
The total for the first five innings is currently set at 4.5, and I’ll be taking the under for my play. Both sides have struggled to produce offense early in games which is evident when the Pirates have hit their F5 team total under in 36 of their last 61 games, and the Brewers have hit their F5 team total under in 21 of their last 31 home games. Pittsburgh is the third most profitable F5 under team in the league for a reason, and I expect them to continue to be profitable tonight.
There is no denying that Brewers starter Adrian Houser has struggled as of late, but tonight he gets to face a Pirates offense that ranks 15th in OPS and 19th in wRC+ against right-handed pitching on the road over the last month. Houser also has a 3.54 FIP when facing a lineup the first time through.
As for the Brewers' offense, they rank 15th in wRC+ and 14th in OPS against right-handed pitching at home over the last month. With their recent struggles to produce at home, they have their work cut out for them tonight with Mitch Keller, who is in the 61st percentile in xERA/xwOBA and has a 3.63 FIP on the road this season.
F5 Under 4.5