After a rocky Opening Day, we are starting to heat up as we have cashed tickets on three consecutive days. Last night’s winner came when we backed the Chicago Cubs as road underdogs against the Cincinnati Reds. I felt that the Reds were going to struggle as they were missing several key pieces of their lineup to injury and that the Cubs would find a way to continue swinging a hot bat as they had scored seventeen runs in their previous two games.
Javy turns it up a notch. 🔥
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 29, 2020
And that is exactly what happened. Chicago scored eight more runs last night and won the game going away. The Cubs bullpen was again shaky, as they gave up three runs in three innings of work, to make the final score look closer than the game actually was. Chicago scored at least one run in every inning from the third inning on, and now have the best record in the Major Leagues at 4-1. We will look to stay hot tonight as we head to Pittsburgh, where the Pirates host the Milwaukee Brewers.
Milwaukee Brewers (2-3) at Pittsburgh Pirates (2-3)
The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to take their first series win of the season tonight as they host the Milwaukee Brewers in game three of a three-game set. The Pirates lost game one of the series, and found themselves down late in last night’s game, trailing 6-2 in the seventh inning, but rallied to take the game and tie up the series at one game each.
For Milwaukee, the Brewers are reeling after blowing the lead late last night, and are hoping they can get back on track tonight on the road, as they try and keep pace with the streaking Chicago Cubs in the uber-competitive National League Central Division. With a loss tonight, the Brewers could find themselves as many as three full games back of first place, not a place they want to be after the season’s first two series.
— Pirates (@Pirates) July 29, 2020
Starting for the Brewers tonight is Brandon Woodruff (0-1 3.60 ERA), and for the Pirates, it is Joe Musgrove (0-1 4.76 ERA). The Brewers are -143 road favorites. The game total over/under is set at eight and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
It hasn’t been the start of the season that Brewers fans had hoped for, as Milwaukee lost their first series of the year to the Cubs, and after blowing the late lead last night, are on the verge of losing back to back series, both to divisional rivals, to begin the year. That is a doomsday scenario for a Brewers team that was hoping to contend for the division title this year.
The Brewers have ridden their strong bullpen to the playoffs the last couple of years, but right now, the relief staff in Milwaukee is in shambles as they have gotten pounded in nearly every game. If Milwaukee is going to be able to stay in contention this season, they have to be able to finish out games and get this bullpen back to being one of the most consistent in the National League.
Brandon Woodruff (0-1 3.60 ERA)
Brandon Woodruff made his first All-Star team last year for the Brewers as the former reliever was moved into the starting rotation and had a lot of success. He made 22 starts for Milwaukee and went 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA. This year, Woodruff was rewarded for all that success by getting the nod on Opening Day for Milwaukee.
While he didn’t pick up the win on Opening Day, he didn’t pitch poorly, as he tossed five innings and allowed two earned runs while striking out five. The Brewers couldn’t get him a single run of support, though, and he starts his season out 0-1. In his final three appearances against the Pirates last year, Woodruff pitched 15.2 innings and allowed only four earned runs and struck out 19. The Brewers record in his four starts against Pittsburgh last year? 4-0.
There won’t be a lot of winning for Pittsburgh in 2020. They just don’t have the talent on their roster to hang with the rest of the NL Central Division. But that hasn’t stopped them from winning two out of their last three games against divisional opponents. In a 60-game sprint of a season, anything could happen, and if a team can get hot for a couple of weeks, you never know where they could finish.
The guy leading the way for Pittsburgh so far in 2020 is third baseman, Colin Morgan. Morgan is in his fifth Major League season, his third as an everyday player with Pittsburgh, and has never been much more than a replacement-level guy. But in 2020, he is smashing the baseball. In five games so far this season, Moran is slashing .353/.421/.941 with 3 home runs, 4 RBI, and 6 runs scored.
Joe Musgrove (0-1 4.75 ERA)
Joe Musgrove really isn’t any good, but he is the best starting pitcher the Pirates have in 2020. Last year he lost 12 games and had an ERA of four and a half runs. He doesn’t strike out too many guys and gives up more homers than he should. He isn’t awful by any means, but when this guy is your Opening Day ace, your rotation can’t be very good.
In his first start of the year, Musgrove lasted 5.2 innings, allowing three runs, all earned, and was charged with the loss. And it could have been worse as he gave up five hits and walked three guys on the night. Against Milwaukee last year, Musgrove was 0-1 in two starts, with a 6.00 ERA.
Who Do I Like?
The Brewers need to win his game. They just can’t afford to lose a series to the Pittsburgh Pirates if they want any realistic shot at making the postseason this year. Blowing last night’s game is going to sting even more if they can’t rebound today and take the series win. This Brewers team isn’t an elite one, but I think they will do what it takes to pick up the win today.
Musgrove is mediocre at best, and Woodruff is actually quite good, much of the time. The offense has been hot and cold for Milwaukee, but they have scored at least six runs in three of their five games, and with their best starter on the mound tonight, if they can touch up Musgrove for six runs, they are going to win this game.
I think the Brewers win tonight. The shaky bullpen does give me a little bit of anxiety, but these teams just aren’t on the same level right now. The Pirates are going to finish in last place when all is said and done in 2020, and with the NL playoffs expanded to 8 teams, the Brewers are going to be right in the mix for the postseason.
Expect Woodruff to be solid, Musgrove to give up several runs, and the Brewers to coast to the game and series win. I don’t usually like to lay wood on the road, but I see the Brewers as prohibitive favorites, and the price is right, so I will back the Brewers tonight in game three. Give me the Milwaukee Brewers as road favorites, laying -143!