Sept 5, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks (right) is greeted by left fielder Ryan Braun (left) after Weeks hit a two run homer against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Series Preview: New York Mets @ Milwaukee Brewers


David Wright and the Mets head out on the road to Miller Park, once again mired in a slump after a dismal home stand. They’ve been swept twice in a row by both the Braves and the Nationals, and their current six-game losing streak has their season record down to a disappointing 65-78. The goals for Terry Collins and company after a tough start to the second halfwere to finish at least at .500 and in third place. Finishing with close to a winning record would be a gift, and thanks to a recent hot streak by Philly, New York is now 6.5 games behind them for third place in the NL East.

How the opposition is doing:

Like the Phillies, the Brewers have been hot enough lately where their names are being thrown into playoff conversations again, as they creep up in the Wild Card chase. Ryan Braun has helped led the Brew Crew to a 7-3 record in their last 10 games, and a current three-game win streak has Milwaukee at 72-71. At 14.5 games behind in the Central, the division crown is out of the question, but they’re now only three games out of the final Wild Card spot.

Even though Prince Fielder isn’t around anymore, offense hasn’t been an issue for the Brewers. Jonathan Lucroy leads the squad with a .322 batting average, but reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun is not far behind him with a .310 mark. Also, Braun’s .385 OBP and .593 Slug% are first on the stat sheet out of starters. Aramis Ramirez has made a nice comeback after a slow start, currently posting a .296/.361/.529 line. Not surprising, Braun also leads the team in runs scored (93), home runs (38) and RBI (100). Outside of Ramirez giving him protection and support, Corey Hart has also had a nice 2012, as he presently has 27 homers and 77 RBI.

Once Milwaukee traded away Zack Greinke, a lot of people felt the pitching was going to go downhill. However, it’s been a strong suit for them. Yovani Gallardo has taken over staff ace duties, as his 15 wins are most on the team; in fact, at this moment, he’s the only pitcher with double digit wins. Of qualifying pitchers, Michael Friers’ 3.05 ERA is the lowest of all, while Gallardo’s 186.1 IP and 188 K’s pace the staff.

Probable pitching match-ups:

Jonathon Niese (10-9, 3.47 ERA) vs. Mike Fiers (9-7, 3.05 ERA)

It’s been a tough stretch for Niese, as he’s lost three starts in a row, despite giving up three runs or less in each of those starts. However, that’s what happens when the offense gives their pitcher no room for error. After what was a solid first half for the lefty (7-4, 3.73 ERA, 1.23 WHIP), he’s performed even better in the second half, even though he hasn’t fared well in the luck department (3-5, 3.07 ERA, 1.07 WHIP). Fiers has had a breakout season, as a recent productive stretch of winning three of his last four appearances has him on the precipice of reaching 10 wins, even though he wasn’t in the rotation full-time until June. He’s enjoyed pitching at Miller Park, as he’s 4-4 with a 2.65 ERA and 66 K’s in 57.2 innings pitched.

Jenrry Mejia (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.71 ERA)

Mejia will be making his first MLB start in two years, and his first since having Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2011. He’s enjoyed success in Triple-A as a starter this season, as he compiled a 2.75 ERA and .245 opponent batting average in 10 starts, while he made 16 relief appearances and put together a 5.48 ERA and .303 opponent batting average. Marcum is pitching with a purpose, as he’s going to be a free agent after this season, and he’s trying to get into a groove after spending two months on the disabled list. He’s received three straight no decisions, but the right-hander has given up 11 runs in his last 14.2 IP. Marcum will look to stay ahead in the count in this start, where he holds a 1.69 ERA. When he drops behind a hitter, his ERA balloons to 7.88.

Chris Young (4-7, 4.39 ERA) vs. Wily Peralta (1-0, 3.46 ERA)

After getting roughed up for 5 runs in 4 innings in Philadelphia on August 28th, Chris Young has pitched effectively, as he’s given up only 3 runs and has struck out 10 in his last 11 innings, but only has one win to show for it. The tall righty is looking forward to pitching during the day in the series finale, as he’s 2-2 with a 2.53 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, compared to a 2-5 record, 5.32 ERA, 1.51 WHIP at Citi Field this season. Peralta has found himself and his 96 mph fastball in the Brewers rotation as they try to make an improbable run toward the last NL Wild Card spot. In the minors, Peralta didn’t have a spectacular season, going 7-11 in 28 starts with a 4.63 ERA, but the Brewers are high on what he brings to the mound, as he struck out 143 hitters in 146.2 IP.

Wright and Terry Collins spoke to Braun at the All-Star game to talk about the hit by pitch courtesy of the released D.J. Carrasco, and hope there is no retaliation. They played a short, two-game set in May, and despite being outscored 9-3, the Mets split the series. All-time, New York is 57-40 against the Brewers, including a 29-16 mark on the road. Let’s hope they can resurrect some of that magic…Let’s go Mets!

Tags: David Wright Jonathon Niese Mets Series Preview New York Mets Rising Apple Ryan Braun