Opposite dugout: Brewers still smelling playoffs

brewers-logo.jpgManager: Craig Counsell (3rd season)

Record: 69-64

Last 10 games: 6-4

Who to watch: 3B Travis Shaw (83 RBIs, 27 HR), CF Keon Broxton (20 HR, 19 SB), 1B Eric Thames (28 HR), RF Domingo Santana (22 HR, 66 RBIs), RHP Zach Davies (15-7, 3.91 ERA), RHP Corey Knebel (30 saves)

Season series vs. Nationals: 1-2

Pitching probables:
Aug. 31: LHP Gio Gonzalez vs. RHP Zach Davies, 8:10 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 1: RHP Tanner Roark vs. RHP Jimmy Nelson, 8:10 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 2: RHP Erick Fedde vs. RHP Brandon Woodruff, 7:10 p.m., MASN2
Sept. 3: RHP Max Scherzer vs. RHP Matt Garza, 2:10 p.m., MASN

Inside the Brewers:

Coming into tonight's game, the Brewers are three games out of the second National League wild card slot, but they are just as close to winning their division. While Milwaukee has seen its share of adversity, including a recent five-game losing streak, the defending world champion Cubs can't quite seem to shake them. And the Brew Crew has bolstered their roster recently with some new additions to help in the stretch drive.

One of those new faces belongs to second baseman Neil Walker (.271/.349/.439), who came to the Brewers Aug. 12 as part of the Mets' fire sale. He's hitting .311 with a home run and six RBIs in 14 games with his new team. Travis Shaw (.282/.355/.538) leads the Brewers in RBIs, but his average has dipped 10 points since the end of July, putting him in a dead heat with catchers Manny Piña (.281/.327/.441) and Steven Vogt (.281/.315/.620). Since his return from a 10-day banishment to Triple-A, center fielder Keon Broxton (.225/.300/.447) hasn't brought his batting average up a whole lot, and switch-hitting infielder Jonathan Villar (.233/.288/.360) has passed him for the team lead in stolen bases (23). But Broxton has hit six home runs in August, after hitting 14 over the rest of the season. Broxton played hero in yesterday's win over the Cardinals, robbing Randal Grichuk of a go-ahead homer for the final out. Left fielder Ryan Braun has been slumping over the past couple of weeks, going just 5-for-39 in his last 11 games. Manager Craig Counsell often sits first baseman Eric Thames (.235/.349/.510) against lefties, but Thames is 2-for-4 against Gio Gonzalez. Right fielder Domingo Santana (.276/.369/.478) is a distant second to Shaw for the team lead in RBIs. Santana's numbers had been on a slow slide since his average peaked at .295 in mid-July, but he has gone 2-for-4 in his last three games.

Leading the pitching staff in victories, sinkerballer Zach Davies (15-7, 3.91 ERA) takes the hill in tonight's opener. He's been alternating between wins and losses since mid-July, but the righty been a reliable innings-eater. In fact, the only time this season Davies failed to get through the fifth was his first start of 2017. Friday starter Jimmy Nelson (10-6, 3.75) throws a sinker too, but his is clocked at 94 mph, and the right-hander's four-seam fastball goes a tick faster than that. In a July 26 start at Nationals Park, Nelson gave up just four hits while striking out 10 over seven innings. Called up from Colorado Springs Aug. 4, Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 1.62) makes his fourth start for the big club on Saturday. In his first, he got the win in the Brewers' 2-0 victory over the Rays in St. Petersburg. The next two outings didn't go as well. The righty took a hard-luck loss Aug. 9, when the Twins blanked the Brewers 4-0 in Milwaukee. Against the Rockies in Denver, Woodruff only made it through 4 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and walking three batters. Veteran right-hander Matt Garza (6-8, 4.77) gets the Sunday matinee. In his last start, Tuesday at home against the Cards, Garza allowed six runs (three earned) on four hits and three walks over just 3 1/3 innings. It was the third time in the month he failed to make it to fifth.

Setup man Anthony Swarzak (6-3, 2.37 ERA) has had seven holds and a save since he came over from the White Sox at the end of July. But yesterday he gave up a two-run homer to Tommy Pham that got the Cardinals within a run in the eighth inning. Flame-throwing closer Corey Knebel (1-2, 1.29 ERA) got his 30th save of the year in that game only because of Broxton's circus catch. It marked Knebel's 13th straight conversion. His last blown save occurred July 19 at Pittsburgh.

Game 133 lineups: Nats at Brewers
Strasburg tosses second career shutout, Nats sweep...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.masnsports.com/