The best start in 31 years continues as the Dodgers have reached 9-1 for the first time since 1981. That ballclub lost their eleventh game. These Dodgers look to see what’s in store for them. They oppose a Brewers team that enters play on quite the opposite streak, four losses consecutively. Milwaukee ranks 26th in the league in batting average with a .228 clip. Their ERA of 5.65 is second-worst in the Majors. The team took a devastating blow when first baseman Prince Fielder signed with the Detroit Tigers, but avoided another when MVP Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension was reversed.
Infield: Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is on a tear to begin the season, hitting .364 with two homers and six RBI. Still only a .263 career hitter, Lucroy is is primed to slow down. He has been dealing with tightness issues in his chest that has kept him out of two games.
An example of minor league success not translating to the big leagues is first baseman Mat Gamel. Sure he hit .310 with 28 home runs at Triple-A Nashville last season, but the daunting task of replacing Fielder is too much for any rookie. Early on he has set himself to be a feast-or-famine type of player, being held hitless in five of 10 games this season, batting .250 with an RBI.
The absence of Fielder might not be missed more than by second baseman Rickie Weeks, who has really struggled to get things going. He hits .184 with two home runs and two RBI. After beginning the season batting 4-for-9 (.444), he has hit just 3-for-29 (.103), something he will need to improve upon if the Brewers are to steal away the momentum from the Dodgers.
After missing two games on paternity leave, Alex Gonzalez will re-assume his duties at shortstop. Gonzalez packs a punch, and has two home runs to show for it this season. Thus, pitchers need to be careful with him. His .214 average will scare few though.
At third is the Brewers’ big free agent signing in response to Fielder, third baseman Aramis Ramirez. But what a disappointment he has been, hitting just .114. After hitting .306 in Chicago last season, it could simply be a change of scenery that has startled the former All-Star.
Outfield: Despite several pleas for Dodgers center-fielder Matt Kemp to win the NL MVP award, it was awarded to Brewers left-fielder Ryan Braun. Braun has picked up where he left off, hitting .343 with a home run. The problem for Ryan is a lack of protection in Fielder’s absence.
In center is the speedster Nyjer Morgan. He, like his teammates is off to a slow start, hitting .143, and was caught in his only stolen base attempt. Last year he was a .304 batter, and was pivotal in setting up the table for the Brewers heavy hitters.
The new muscle of the Brewers has been right-fielder Corey Hart. Hart has been an important piece of the puzzle for the Brewers for several seasons, and has taken the responsibility of being the main power source in place of Fielder. Hart has four home runs and eight RBI to his name, and a .321 batting average to follow it up with.
Starters: Yovani Gallardo will start things off for the Brew Crew. In his first start (at home) he was roughed up for six runs, giving up four home runs in 3.2 innings, taking the loss against the Cardinals. He then came back and pitched 7.0 strong innings in a 2-1 victory over the Cubs.
Zack Greinke was quite the opposite, beginning well at home, and shutting down the Cardinals for 7.0 innings, and then proceeding to allow eight runs on nine hits in 3.2 innings of an 8-0 drubbing against the Cubs.
For former friend Randy Wolf it has been all bad. In 9.1 innings of two starts he has a 10.61 ERA, losing one of the two decisions. He has allowed 11 runs on 18 hits, while walking four.
Closer: John Axford has converted both of his save opportunities, but has been put into a non-save situation twice, and performed miserably. In those spots he has pitched 1.0 innings and allowed three runs on a hit with four walks, good for an ERA of 27.00. His K:BB ratio of 8-to-5 is not something to comfort the Brewers in the ninth inning. Needless to say, the Dodgers might be able to get to the closer if put in the situation.
Tuesday, April 17th at 5:10 p.m.: Chad Billingsley (2-0) vs. Yovani Gallardo (1-1) – KCAL
Wednesday, April 18th at 5:10 p.m.: Chris Capuano (1-0) vs. Zach Greinke (1-1) – Prime Ticket
Thursday, April 19th at 10:10 a.m.: Aaron Harang (0-1) vs. Randy Wolf (0-1) – Prime Ticket, MLB Network