After losing two of three to the Nationals, the Phillies will turn the page and welcome in the Milwaukee Brewers to Citizens Bank Park, a club sharing the second worst record in the majors at 29-48, just ahead of the Phillies.
With the “Brew Crew” coming to town, the Phillies’ starting pitchers must take advantage of Milwaukee’s mediocre offense, which ranks 24th in runs scored (283), 28th in average (.238), and 26th in OPS (.670).
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Starting pitching has not been a strong suit for the Phillies this season, as the team ranks 29th in MLB with a 5.03 ERA. Sean O’Sullivan, Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, and rookie Adam Morgan are on schedule to pitch this series in that order.
With O’Sullivan’s struggles on the mound this season (5.34 ERA and 1.5 WHIP), not a lot is expected from the journeyman right-hander. And one never knows what to expect from a rookie such as Morgan. However, as the ace and number two starter, Hamels and Harang need to get the job done on the mound, and shut down the Brewers’ offense.
The 31-year-old Hamels has had a solid season, posting a 3.26 ERA with 106 strikeouts and only 82 hits against in 99.1 innings-pitched. But the southpaw ace has struggled in June, going 1-3 with a 4.32 ERA in four starts.
In his last start at Yankee Stadium, Hamels got knocked around, allowing five earned runs in five innings-pitched. The lefty is only two starts removed from a stellar outing against the Pirates where he pitched seven innings of shutout ball.
Seeing a Brewers lineup that ranks fourth in the NL with 600 strikeouts should be a welcomed sight for Hamels, as he has averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings-pitched. His biggest obstacle will be Ryan Braun, who has a .294 average against Hamels in his career, with three home runs and five RBIs.
After looking like an ace for the first two months of the season, Harang has come back down hard to earth in June, going 0-5 with a 7.28 ERA and a .291 average against. His struggles this month have inflated his ERA from 2.02 to 3.56.
In 26 starts against the Brewers, the 37-year-old right-hander has a mediocre 7-6 record and a 4.10 ERA. Unlike Hamels, Harang has been able to hold Braun in check to the tune of a .206 average in 34 at-bats.
If the Phillies hope to take the series from the Brewers. Hamels and Harang will need to step up and be the leaders of a struggling rotation. Shutting down Braun, the club’s best hitter, will be crucial. Perhaps Harang can provide some advice to Hamels?
Of course, the offense will need to complete their end of the bargain by providing run support. After facing a tough Nationals rotation, the task should be easier against the Brewers, whose starters rank 28th in MLB with a 4.89 ERA and a .280 BAA.