The Milwaukee Brewers have taken the first three games of this four-game series in Los Angeles. The Dodgers still have the best record in baseball, but there are some signs of trouble for the team. Milwaukee started very slowly, but they still have plenty of time to right the ship. Can the Brewers complete a stunning four-game sweep over the Dodgers?
The Brewers won the NL Central last year, but the offseason was a difficult one for them. Prince Fielder headed to Detroit, and there were plenty of distractions around Ryan Braun. To be fair, Braun is having another stellar season, so it really isn’t his fault that the team has underachieved this year. Braun is hitting .315 with 14 homers and 36 RBI’s in 2012. Unfortunately for the Brewers, no other consistent starter is hitting over .250. Rickie Weeks has an embarrassing .153 average. Aramis Ramirez is struggling to replace Fielder in the middle of the order.
The Brewers biggest problem this year has been their pitching staff. The bullpen was expected to be one of the best in baseball, but they have been a major disappointment. Francisco Rodriguez has struggled all year, and the team has had real trouble in middle relief. Zack Greinke will get the start in this one. Greinke has been one of the team’s best starters, but he has struggled on the road. He has a road ERA of 7.03.
The Dodgers have to be very concerned about Matt Kemp’s health after he left last night’s game struggling with his hamstring. Kemp just came off the disabled list due to the same injury. This team has done a great job keeping it together with him gone, but they badly need him in the lineup. Andre Ethier is putting together a career year thus far in 2012. Ethier is batting .333 with 9 homers and 43 huge RBI’s. Catcher A.J. Ellis has been a huge positive surprise for the Dodgers offense as well. Ellis is hitting .315 on the year, and he has a stellar .435 on-base-percentage.
The real season the Dodgers have the best record in baseball is their tremendous pitching. The Dodgers pitching staff has the second best ERA in the majors. Thursday night’s starter Chad Billingsley has actually been quite inconsistent this season. Billingsley has struggled with high pitch counts, and he has only pitched into the 7th inning or later twice this season. The Dodgers bullpen has been terrific this year, and Kenley Jansen looks like a future star at the closer spot.
MLB Free Pick: Over 6.5
Greinke is an entirely different pitcher away from home. Billingsley allows a lot of base runners, and I think the Brewers can make him pay. This total is set a little too low.