Brew Crew Preview

vs.

After demolishing the Rays and Cubs, the Tigers head to Milwaukee for a 3-game set before a day off on Thursday. Coming into the season, the Brewers were kind of like the Tigers of the National League in that they had some legitimate expectations for success and could exceed even those if things broke right. So far, Detroit is having things break quite right, but the Brewers have been up and down. Currently, they are on an upswing winning 7 of their last 10 to claw back to even at 35-35. They can’t seem to get their full compliment of starting pitchers as Ben Sheets just can’t stay healthy. Tomo Ohka has also made just six starts this season. All together, the Brewers have had 10 pitchers made starts. They will make it 11 when Rick Helling goes against Zach Miner tomorrow.

Rotation
Three pitchers have started 15 times including tonight’s starter, Doug Davis. He has struggled this year due in large part to 49 walks and 90 hits allowed in 87 inning (1.60 WHIP). His ERA has been below 5.00 just once since April 18th and currently sits at 5.07. His strikeouts per nine rated has dropped 2.1 this season to 6.4, but he still has the ability to rack them up if the Tigers aren’t patient. Helling is coming off of the 60-day disabled list having pitched just twice this year. The 35-year old had a fine season switching between starting and relieving last year. In 49 innings, he was 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 2.3 K:BB. He has never been very good against Detroit, but this team is much different than any of the previous ones he’s faced. Brewers ace Chris Capuano toes the rubber Wednesday afternoon in a lefty vs. lefty showdown against Nate Robertson. Capuano has really come into his own this season. Though good in 2005, he still had 91 walks (3.7/9) leading to a 1.38 WHIP. In 15 starts this season, he has just 23 walks (2.1/9) and 93 strikeouts (8.3/9). He hasn’t gone fewer than six innings in any start and he has given up more than three runs just once (six on May 31st). Capuano has a devastating pickoff move, but for a team that runs as little as Detroit, that isn’t a great concern.

Bullpen
The bullpen has not been a strength for the Brewers allowing a National League-worst 135 runs. Only Kansas City (170) and Tampa Bay (137) have been worse. With a 1.43 WHIP and 5.00 earned run average, the Tigers need to focus on getting to that pen as soon as possible, especially against Capuano. Closer Derrick Turnbow has already matched his 2005 total of four blown saves this year. He hasn’t given up a run since June 3rd, a span covering seven appearances. Jose Capelllan, Dan Kolb, and Matt Wise are used most frequently, but all have been susceptible to blow ups with a combined earned run average of 4.05.

Lineup
The hitters for Milwaukee have some of the best young talent in all of baseball. Anchored by Carlos Lee, who turns 30 tomorrow, this lineup can go on home run stretches that the Tigers are used to seeing from their lineup. Adding to Lee’s power are Prince Fielder and Bill Hall. Geoff Jenkins has been a 25+ HR hitter in the past, but this year is on pace for just 16. He followed a blazing April with a horrible May and appears to be evening out in June since moving out of third in the lineup. He has managed seven hits in 14 at-bats since the move. Rickie Weeks and Brady Clark are the catalysts at the top both boasting on-base percentages right near .380. Weeks will keep Pudge and Vance Wilson alert with his quality base-stealing ability, but Clark continues his 2005 troubles with two steals in five tries. Last year, he was just 10-for-23 (44%). Corey Koskie has hit .296 over the past week and has always been good against Detroit from his days with Minnesota and Toronto. In 91 games, he has a .300/.384/.498 batting line with 13 home runs and 13 steals. Gabe Gross is their go-to man for power off the bench with three pinch-hit home runs.

Wrap Up
The Tigers have won eight of 10 and have a chance to continue their roll against the Brewers. They are a formidable opponent, especially with Capuano on the mound, but there is a great opportunity to take at least two out of three for the series victory. Only the White Sox have scored more than Detroit’s 44 runs in the last week. Their 10 home runs, all against the Cubs this weekend, is American League’s highest seven-day total. I think a series win is in order and I’d love to see them beat an ace like Capuano on Wednesday.

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