Wednesday, August 6, 2014

NL Showdown in Milwaukee

Two of the National League’s best take the field for the second game of a three-game set tonight in Milwaukee. Both the Giants and Brewers have hit a mini-skid recently, but both still control their own destiny. The Brew Crew is on top of the Cardinals in the NL Central by a game, while the Giants sit 2.5 back of the Dodgers in the West. However, San Francisco does hold one of the coveted Wild Card spots. Milwaukee will be looking to take the series tonight and go for a momentum-shifting sweep tomorrow.

The Brewers received some unfortunate news yesterday, as starting pitcher Matt Garza was placed on the 15-Day DL with an oblique strain. The dreaded oblique strain is a nightmare for any baseball player, particularly pitchers since they cannot go through their motion with confidence. That means Garza is left without a true timetable to return, which leaves veterans such as Kyle Lohse and tonight’s starter, Yovani Gallardo, on the hot seat in his absence.

Gallardo (6-5, 3.38 ERA) is enjoying a bounce-back season after a shaky 2013. He’s been especially unhittable lately, riding a scoreless streak of 16.2 innings at the start of play tonight. In his current form, a normally toothless San Francisco offense may have even less bite.

Ranking in the bottom third of baseball in most team offensive categories, the Giants don’t have history or luck on their side tonight. Gallardo has been dazzling in his last four starts vs. Bruce Bochy’s club, boasting a 1.29 ERA. Additionally, due to off days on Thursday and Monday, Gallardo is pitching on six days rest. So don’t expect a thunderstorm from the Giants’ bats tonight.

That leaves San Francisco to depend on the arm of Ryan Vogelsong (6-8, 3.88 ERA). The veteran righty continues to grind innings as the dependable #4 or #5 starter for the Giants. However, with Matt Cain undergoing season-ending elbow surgery, it’s time for Vogelsong to take a leadership role. His two-hit complete game against the Mets last week should open some eyes, but prior to that night, the Giants' offense only gave him three total runs in support over the prior six starts. If San Francisco’s bats can find a way to jump on Gallardo early and offer some support to their starter, they could steal a victory in Milwaukee. We just don't expect that to happen.

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