Well, my hard drive crashed last night while trying to write this. Thankfully blogger.com saves drafts as you go. Recaps may be difficult to prepare without my laptop, but I will do my best to stay on. On to the Preview.
Who's on Tap?:
May 6th: Jeff Suppan (1-1, 5.19 ERA) vs. Scott Olsen (3-1, 2.70 ERA)
May 7th: Dave Bush (0-3, 6.46 ERA) vs. Burke Badenhop (0-2, 7.20 ERA)
May 8th: Carlos Villanueva (1-3, 5.56 ERA) vs. Mark Hendrickson (5-1, 3.71 ERA)
Who Should You Watch?:
Beware of the young and talented Hanley Ramirez. He seems to have a knack for hitting pitchers who throw offspeed stuff. Translation: he's a master at keeping his hands back. Both Suppan and Villanueva rely on their changeups and curveballs. Ramierez was really the only person who hit the ball against Villanueva last time and never got the chance to see Suppan in the last series. As for pitching, keep your on eye on the biggest surprise for the Marlins, Mark Hendrickson. Hendrickson had a 5+ ERA to start the year, but has succeeded in his return trip to the Florida area. Interestingly he had a 3.81 ERA in 13 games when he went to Tampa Bay during the 2006 seaosn. Every other year he was above 4.60. He too isn't going to blow you away, but off speed guys seem to be the Brewers' worst enemy. ::Insert Nelson Figueroa::
As for the Brewers, keep your eye on Carlos Villanueva and Dave Bush. Villanueva has a tendency to bounce back extremely well after poor outings. Yost probably could have saved him a bit from a debacle, but this guy is cold blooded. Nothing seems to phase him. Dave Bush has a lot to prove to Brewers fans. Nobody, besides former Brewer Paul Wagner and Ned Yost, can say they really have enjoyed Bush's outings so far this year. Bush has had some success and some failure in Florida in his career. Last year he went six and only gave up one run, but he was roughed up for six in five in in 2006. Nevertheless, he needs to pitch well to get me off his back. On the offensive side of things, watch out for Corey Hart again. He seems to be the most consistent of the Brewers lately. Also, stay aware of J.J. Hardy, who is nursing a left shoulder injury. He may not be able to get around on a fastball like you would hope.
Keys to Victory:
In the last series, the Brewers struggled mightily at the plate, amassing only 18 hits in 20 innings of baseball. And to their chagrin, they get to see two of the same three starters they saw in Milwaukee. Olson blanked them through 7.1 and Hendrickson gave up two earned going into the 7th. So what do they have to do? I said it last night on WSSP, plate discipline. They don't necessarily need to take walks, but they need to not try and pull balls on the outside of the plate, fight off pitches that are 'pitcher's pitches' and take advantage of mistakes. Olson has some good stuff, but Hendrickson is still nothing to call home about, regardless of his numbers, so they should be able to put something together.
The Marlins need to take advantage of a team that's down and a team that gives up when it finds itself in a hole. If they manage to jump on the Brewers early and stay aggressive at the plate, they'll find themselves taking the upper hand in good portion of the series.
After the Houston series, I can't help but think this is a slide that's going to continue until the Brewers get home and find some support of their fans. As a result, I expect Suppan and Bush to get handled pretty well, Soup more than Bush and the offense to still blunder. Villanueva will likely be serviceable and will match Bush, but the offense will be there for Bush and get him the first victory of the year. So loss on Tuesday, win on Wednesday, and tough loss on Thursday.