First pitch: Monday, 7:05 p.m. EDT
Line: Philadelphia -125, Milwaukee +115, Total: 9
Fresh off a sweep at the hands of the Washington Nationals, the Brewers make the trip up I-95 to take on the Phillies. Milwaukee will send Shaun Marcum (2-1, 2.55 ERA, 15 K, 8 BB) to the hill. Marcum leads the team in wins, and has the second lowest ERA of any Brewers starter in ‘11. The other positive for Milwaukee is that, at least for Monday, the Phils will not have one of the ‘Big Four’ starting pitchers on the mound. Instead, Milwaukee will draw right-hander Joe Blanton, and his 10.45 ERA. Odds.
Marcum is coming off an impressive outing in which he held Pittsburgh without a run over seven innings, striking out four and allowing just four hits en route to the victory. Monday he’ll try to show that same dominance against eastern Pennsylvania’s baseball team. The Brewers are 2-6 on the road in ‘11, and could manage only eight runs over their three straigt losses to the Nats. Milwaukee hopes that Prince Fielder will show his ‘10 form against Philly in ‘11. Last season Fielder smoked Phillies pitching, hitting .455 with four homers, two doubles and six RBIs and had a .520 on-base percentage against the Phils. Fielder’s .339 career batting average versus Philadelphia is his highest against any NL opponent. Scores.
If Blanton cannot figure things out on Monday night, everyone in the Brewer lineup may resemble Fielder at the plate. In 10.1 innings Blanton has allowed 17 hits and 12 earned runs. Opposing teams are batting .500 against him with runners on base. Blanton says that a flaw in his mechanics when he pitches from the stretch is to blame for his struggles. Fortunately for Charlie Manuel’s club, Blanton has pitched well against Milwaukee recently. He is 3-1 when starting against the Brewers, and his team’s record is 4-1 in these starts.
The Phils are coming off of a split of an abbreviated two-game series against Florida, after winning Sunday 3-2 thanks to Carlos Ruiz‘s eighth inning sac fly that scored Ryan Howard with the winning run. Howard is hitting .111 with six strikeouts in the last eight games. If the Phils offense are to find its way against Milwaukee and Marcum, Howard will most likely have to be in the middle of it.
While Philadelphia is 10-4, they have lost the first game of a series in each of its last four series (two at home, two on the road). That, along with the combination of a slumping offense, a struggling starter, and an opposing starter with a very strong track record against them, leads me to believe that Milwaukee is the pick here.
The FoxSheets have a pair of trends working in the Brewers’ favor:
MILWAUKEE is 35-27 (+13.9 Units) against the money line vs. a good bullpen whose ERA is 3.75 or better over the last 2 seasons. The average score was MILWAUKEE 4.2, OPPONENT 4.8 – (Rating = 1*) Las Vegas odds.
PHILADELPHIA is 5-9 (-14.8 Units) against the money line in home games vs. an NL team with an on base percentage .315 or worse over the last 2 seasons. The average score was PHILADELPHIA 4.0, OPPONENT 4.1 – (Rating = 1*)
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