Just one week ago, the upcoming series between the Atlanta Braves and the Milwaukee Brewers looked to be a favorable one for the visiting team. After all, the host Brewers stood at just 28-48 on the season, and everything was going wrong for Milwaukee during the 2015 season. Since then, however, the Brewers have reeled off eight consecutive victories, and that is the backdrop for what appears to be a highly competitive series at Miller Park.
Of course, it must be noted that the Braves are reasonably hot in their own right. Atlanta won four consecutive games before dropping a bizarre 4-0 result on Sunday afternoon, and at the very least, the pitching staff has been performing quite well in recent days. As for this series, the Braves will "miss" both Alex Wood and Shelby Miller, leaving things in the hands of the trio of Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos and Julio Teheran.
Wisler and Banuelos are both coming off tremendous outings last week, and they will face veterans who have struggled mightily this season. Wisler will square off against Kyle Lohse, and while the veteran right-hander has long been established as a quality fixture in MLB rotations, he has encountered a road block this season. It would be aggressive to assume that Wisler would shut down the Brewers on the road, but at worst, this looks like a toss-up in terms of pitching match-up.
On Tuesday, Banuelos will aim to follow up on his stellar debut. He was lights-out in a win over Washington last week, but now, Banuelos will step away from Turner Field for his second MLB start, and Milwaukee's lineup has been quite serviceable over the body of their winning streak. He certainly isn't quite as good as he showed in his debut, but there is a reason that Banuelos has been a big-time prospect and he'll have another opportunity to flash that upside.
The finale matches Julio Teheran against Milwaukee's Mike Fiers in what is the "marquee" match-up of the week. It is unclear just which version of Teheran will show up, however, as the right-hander boasts a beautiful 2.04 ERA at Turner Field this season and a ghastly 7.40 (!) mark on the road. Each time that Braves Country establishes trust that Teheran is "back", he seems to submit a stinker in a road venue, but we'll see if he can override that trend on Wednesday.
The Atlanta Braves are better than the Milwaukee Brewers, but the Brewers are playing some of the best baseball in the Majors as the series opens. Visions of a .500 mark (or better) at the All-Star Break are enticing, but Fredi Gonzalez's club must take advantage of this week's stay at Miller Park in order to have that come to fruition.
Stay tuned throughout the week for extended coverage.
Monday, July 6 at 8:10 PM ET
ATL: Matt Wisler
2015: 2-1, 2.60 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 4.15 K/9, 2.60 BB/9
MIL: Kyle Lohse
2015: 5-9, 6.24 ERA, 4.94 FIP, 6.43 K/9, 2.02 BB/9
Tuesday, July 7 at 8:10 PM ET
ATL: Manny Banuelos
2015: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.67 FIP, 11.12 K/9, 0.00 BB/9 (second career MLB start)
MIL: Matt Garza
2015: 4-10, 5.55 ERA, 4.98 FIP, 6.18 K/9, 3.00 BB/9
Wednesday, July 8 at 2:10 PM ET
ATL: Julio Teheran
2015: 6-4, 4.60 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 6.90 K/9, 3.19 BB/9
MIL: Mike Fiers
2015: 4-7, 3.83 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 9.10 K/9, 3.35 BB/9