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Milwaukee Brewers (32-28) @ Colorado Rockies (22-38)
Who's on Tap?:
June 6th: Ben Sheets (6-1, 2.71 ERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (1-6, 5.37 ERA)
June 7th: Dave Bush (2-5, 5.49 ERA) vs. Greg Reynolds (0-3, 5.72 ERA)
June 8th: Jeff Suppan (3-4, 3.93 ERA) vs. Jeff Francis (2-5, 5.53 ERA)
Who Should You Watch?:
Ben Sheets wants some money, and damnit, it's contract year. Sheets has been phenomenal thus far and should have at least three more wins to his record. Nevertheless, he's doing what Brewer fans have been wanting for three years, and that's actually pitching. It's unfortunate too because the Brewers are going to be in it long enough to not be able to send him off, and as a result will only get two compensatory picks for him in next year's drat (unless somehow Mark finds more money in his wallet). Sheets got an extra day of rest this week after his 8.2 inning performance against the Astros. I have no doubt it helped and Sheets will probably match his performance against a struggling Rockies squad. On the offensive side of things, Prince Fielder is heating up. If I've learned anything about watching nearly every game last year, it's that Prince does it in bunches. Jimenez doesn't give up too many homeruns, but Greg Reynolds and Jeff Francis sure do (8 in just 28 innings and 12 in 71.2 innging of work, respectively). Look for Prince to continue his onslaught and finally stop the media from talking garbage about him being upset.
On the mile high home side, keep your eye on Brian Fuentes, who is turning into big time trade bait as the Rockies fall further and further away from the playoffs. The hole they're digging now is perhaps too big to pull out of like last year's incredible run, and Brian Fuentes has a lot of followers, especially on the east coast. Fuentes pretty much fell into the closer's role since Manny Corpas has floundered, very similarly to Eric Gagne. Though I suspect, Gagne's has a lot more to do with substances than Manny's. Anyways, Fuentes has been solid, saving eight games while striking out 22 and walking only eight while accumulating a 2.55 ERA in 24.2 innings of work. A lot of people would appreciate his work, even if it is only for a couple of months. At the plate, things haven't changed much for the Rockies. With Tulowitzki still out, Matt Holliday continues to be the guy to watch, but guess what, he's on the DL too. Clint Barnes, who's batting .343 this year in place of Tulowitzki? DL. Brad Hawpe? DL. It's been a pretty tough year. But I have to find somebody and that somebody is Todd Helton. Helton is having a great year, as usual. If you're a career .330/.430/.578 hitters, you'll be just fine. Helton's numbers are down a bit this year (.292/.418/.426), but he'll play an important role for the Rockies if they plan on winning a game this series.
Keys to Victory:
The Brewers need need NEED to take their walks this series. Ubaldo Jimenez has walked 36 batters in 63.2 innings this year. Jeff Francis has walked 28 in 71 and Reynolds 18 in just 28.1. The Brewers are relying far too much on getting multiple hits in an inning to score runs. Why not take the free ride boys? Guess how many more multi-run homers you could have if you just knew what a strike was! Braun, in my opinion, is the biggest culprit. Braun is batting .299, but he's only walked 11 times in 257 PAs. That's not very good and has led to an league average .331 OBP. Anyone else take note of Todd Helton's 100 point isopatience (OBP-BA)? Can you imagine what the Brewers could do if their best hitter walked at that kind of clip? And then toss in the fact that he's swinging at better pitches more often. It's not rocket science.
The Rockies need their young starting pitchers to show some progress, but the offense is going to struggle mightily with that many guys on the DL. Spilborghs, Helton and Atkins are the only three guys to fear in the lineup and if the Brewers are smart enough to pitch around Helton, runs are going to be hard to come by for the Rox. As a result, they'll need some solid pitching that's not from Aaron Cook. Yes, the Brewers dodge another team's number one guy. Jimenez has shown flashes of good stuff, but is far from consistent. Francis has never been overwhelmingly good and Reynolds is simply taking up space and denying Taylor Bucholz another opportunity as a starting pitcher. Give the Rockies' fans a reason to be excited for the second half and make this a good series.
Predictions and Notes:
I'm uncomfortable with one thing. The Brewers suck terribly against pitchers they've never seen before and the Brewers have never seen Jimenez or Reynolds. With that being said, the Rockies are in really bad shape at the dish. With so many guys on the DL, it's really hard to believe they have a shot against a team as hot as the Brewers. As a result, I'm going to say the Brewers take two out of three. I want to say sweep, but that would be fantastic, but realistically, the Brewers will need to have the Rockies give the game away like Arizona did on Monday to take all three. Brewers 6-1 tonight, Rox 2-1 on Saturday and 5-4 Brewers on Sunday.
I'll try to do a little bit of an analysis of the draft after today's picks, but at this point, I've been pretty pleased. The Lawrie pick could be a good one in the long run, though he's really ambitious to think he'll be in the bigs as quick as Braun was. Nevertheless, he's got the makings of a solid catcher. If Angel Salome pans out, we could get a lot for the kid or vice versa. I really liked the pickup of the shortstop Jose Duran, who I believe was the Big 12 player of the year since replacing Brandon Hicks who was a third round draft pick last year. I'm a little worried about his glove, but I think he could be a solid back up or utility player of the future.