Reds vs. Brewers: Pitching preview, prediction, and more

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 08: Omar Narvaez #10 of the Milwaukee Brewers tags out Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 08: Omar Narvaez #10 of the Milwaukee Brewers tags out Shogo Akiyama #4 of the Cincinnati Reds. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff #53 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws.
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – MAY 18: Starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff #53 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

The Brewer rotation has been their saving grace.

How important has the Milwaukee starting rotation been this year? The team’s top three leaders in bWAR all come from the Brewers starting pitching ranks, and those three hurlers Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta, all sit within the Top 10 in bWAR among NL pitchers, with Woodruff leading the league.

Woodruff is not only leading in bWAR; he’s also setting the pace in the senior circuit in ERA and WHIP.  Thankfully, the Redlegs will miss him this weekend, but I’m sure they will not be as fortunate as the season unfolds.

For years, the modus operandi for manager Craig Counsell has been to get just enough out of the starting rotation and turn the game over to the bullpen.  However, the script has been flipped this season. Milwaukee starters have posted an excellent 3.09 ERA compared to the 4.54 ERA of their bullpen mates.

Last year’s Rookie of the Year Devin Williams has not nearly been as un-hittable as he was in 2020. The 26-year-old right-handed reliever has surrendered three homers and walked 11 in only 15.1 innings of work.

While the Brewers bullpen has struggled, the offense has been nearly nonexistent. Entering play today, the Brew Crew is last in batting average and second from the basement in OBP and OPS.

When Milwaukee does swing the bat, they’re not making much contact.  Their 424 strikeouts were the second-most in the National League as play began yesterday.   Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., a free agent acquisition in the offseason, is slashing .159/.228/.303 with 44 punchouts. Mercy.

It’s not all bad news for the Milwaukee offense. Catcher Omar Narvaez is off to a scorching start. Slashing .369/.455/.524 with three homers and 13 RBI’s, he’s done his best to pick up the slack for former MVP Christian Yelich, limited to a dozen games due to injury.  However, Yelich has been activated and will no doubt look to torment Reds Country again this weekend.