Fans who mapped out their plans at the start of the season probably thought the upcoming series against the Brewers would be a lot more exciting than the most recent one against the Reds.
But, while Cincinnati is turning heads with its explosive offense and solid pitching, Milwaukee has gone off the deep end. The Shirt Untuckers are 22-32 at the 1/3 mark of the season, which is good enough to be half a game back of the Pirates in fifth place in the National League Central. The Brewers are 10-21 against teams with a .500 record or better.
What's the problem? Well, there are lots of problems. The Brew Crew's pitching has been terrible. Only one Milwaukee starter has an ERA of less than 4.46, Yovani Gallardo while Trevor Hoffman has lost his job as closer due to his 11.00 ERA. The hitting has been spotty. Prince Fielder has finally worked his batting average up to .273. But he's on a pace to drive in about 65 runs this season.
Cardinals co-ace Adam Wainwright (7-3, 2.28) takes the hill in the opener against overpaid Milwaukee lefty Randy Wolf (4-4, 4.46). Wolf has struggled with his control all season and has been walking people left and right, so the St. Louis hitters need to exercise more patience than usual to give him a chance to have enough rope to hang himself. With two starters down, Wainwright has to make the most of his start and get the Redbirds off on the right foot.
Game two is a battle of former longtime Cardinals farmhands. For St. Louis, Adam Ottavino (0-1, 6.35) makes his second major league start. Lefty Chris Narveson (4-3, 5.81), who was chosen by the Redbirds with their second round pick in the 2000 draft, pitches for Milwaukee. Narveson had a cup of coffee with the 2006 World Series winning Cardinals, but was let go following a 4-4 campaign with a 3.70 ERA in 2007 for Class Memphis. He took the job of another 2006 Redbird, Jeff Suppan, who was demoted to the bullpen after just a couple of starts that left his ERA in the 7.00 range. Narveson last pitched against the Marlins whom he held to one hit over five innings before allowing a seven-run frame to lose the game. Ottavino was last spotted in Chicago where he walked six Cubs in a 5 2/3-inning start.
Rookie Jaime Garcia, (5-2, 1.32) takes on tough lefty Manny Parra (1-3, 4.06) in the finale. Dave Bush was scheduled to make the start for Milwaukee, but his turn is being skipped in the rotation because he's 2-6 with a 6.45 ERA in his career against St. Louis. Parra is 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA against the Birds. The Cardinals are still perceived to struggle against lefties. But they're hitting .260 against southpaw starters this season compared to .267 against righty starters. Garcia will make his 11th start of the season and he continues to be just as dominant as ever with 46 hits allowed in 61 1/3 innings. He's allowed just one homer all year.