Manager: Ron Roenicke, fourth year
Last 10 games: 7-3
Who to watch: C Jonathan Lucroy (.331/.397/.520, 26 doubles, 8 HR, 39 RBIs); CF Carlos Gomez (.317/.382/.532, 20 doubles, 12 HR, 40 RBIs); 3B Aramis Ramirez (.297/.341/.500, 10 HR, 38 RBIs); RHP Yovani Gallardo (5-4, 3.34 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
Season series vs. Nats (2013): 3-4, 27 runs scored, 31 runs allowed
June 23: Matt Garza vs. Gio Gonzalez, 8 p.m., MASN2 HD
June 24: Yovani Gallardo vs. Jordan Zimmermann, 8 p.m., MASN2 HD
June 25: Marco Estrada vs. Stephen Strasburg, 2 p.m., MASN HD
Stifling pitching versus hot hitting.
That’s what you’re going to get as the National League-leading Brewers welcome the Nationals to Milwaukee for the next three days.
The Brewers boast one of the baseball’s top offenses, ranking second in the NL with 351 runs, a .283 average, a .420 slugging percentage and 81 homers four games shy of the midpoint of their season.
The Nats answer with the one of baseball’s best pitching staffs, leading the NL with a 3.04 ERA and a 2.50 bullpen ERA while ranking third with a 3.31 starters’ ERA.
So it could be a fantastic few days ahead at Miller Park, to say the least.
The Brewers certainly don’t come into this one cold, having won four in a row and six of seven to boast the NL’s best record at 47-30. Milwaukee has lost two in a row just once since snapping a season-long four-game skid on May 21, moving from eight games over .500 to 17 over during that time.
The offense has been at the center of it, as the Brewers have scored at least four runs 25 times in their 31 games since May 21, including an impressive 19 contests with five runs or more.
Lucroy is tops on the team with a .331 average, a .917 OPS and 26 doubles while adding eight homers and 39 RBIs. Gomez isn’t far behind with a .317 average, a .914 OPS, 12 homers, 11 steals and a team-best 40 RBIs.
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez, right fielder Ryan Braun, left fielder Khris Davis and infielder Mark Reynolds have each added at least 10 homers and 30 RBIs. Davis and Reynolds lead the club with 13 homers apiece. Braun has 10 homers and 39 RBIs in just 58 games while Ramirez has 10 homers and 38 RBIs in 52 games.
The Brewers’ weakness has been pitching, and it certainly hasn’t been dreadful.
Milwaukee ranks seventh in the NL with a 3.69 starters’ ERA and ninth with both a 3.55 bullpen ERA and 3.64 team ERA.
The Nationals have the good fortune of missing the Brewers’ top two starters in the series - right-handers Wily Peralta (8-5, 3.02 ERA) and Kyle Lohse (9-2, 3.20 ERA).
But they do see the heating Matt Garza, who has dropped his ERA from 4.92 to 4.02 with five consecutive quality starts. Garza is 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA during that stretch. The right-hander faces Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez in tonight’s series opener.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo (5-4, 3.34 ERA) has also been hot, going 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA (two runs in 21 innings) over his last three starts, lasting exactly seven innings in each. He’ll go up against Jordan Zimmermann on Tuesday.
Struggling right-hander Marco Estrada (6-4, 5.22 ERA), a former National, will pitch the series finale against Stephen Strasburg.
The Nats head to Milwaukee having won the last two games to earn a big split of their four-game series with the Braves. And now they’ll need to slow down the NL’s best club to keep that wave rolling.