Brewers trade for Walker, may play against Reds
MILWAUKEE — Neil Walker expects to be in Milwaukee on Sunday when the Brewers wrap up a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park.
He might even be in the starting lineup.
Milwaukee acquired Walker on Saturday evening, sending a player to be named to the Mets in exchange for the 31-year old second baseman, who was batting .264 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI this season, his second in the Big Apple.
The move helps the Brewers tackle two birds with one stone. It adds a bat to bolster a slumping lineup and it gives the team a more reliable option at second base where Jonathan Villar has been mired in a season-long funk, Eric Sogard has cooled off after a red-hot start and the team has a National League-worst .672 OPS.
“We’re adding a professional, experienced hitter who we can deploy in our lineup in a number of different places,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said. “A switch-hitter who has had a tremendous amount of success against right-handed pitching throughout his career, including this season. We’re excited to add Neil to our team.”
Walker knows Milwaukee well, having visited many times while spending his first seven big league seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made the playoffs three straight years with Pittsburgh, then again last season with the Mets.
Now, he’s joining a team trying to claw its way back into first place during the final weeks of the season.
“It’s a tremendously talented team with a lot of young guys and a couple of veteran guys sprinkled in,” Walker said of the Brewers. ” (Miller Park) is not an easy place to play as a road player when the stands are full. I’m excited to help in any way that I can. Playing in a winning atmosphere in meaningful games in August and September is all you can ask for as a player.”
After the Brewers snapped a six-game losing streak Saturday night on a 10th-inning wild pitch, Matt Garza will try to maintain the winning ways when he takes the mound for his 18th start of the season.
Garza is 4-5 with a 4.71 ERA against the Reds, including one start this season when he took no-decision after allowing four runs in four innings in an 11-7 Milwaukee victory.
Cincinnati sends right-hander Sal Romano to the mound for the rubber match, looking to snap a two-start losing streak.
Romano allowed nine combined runs in those two outings spanning 12 innings and struck out five with just two walks.
He took solace in the fact that his changeup improved in his last outing, a 6-0 loss to the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Reds manager Bryan Price has been stressing the pitch’s importance to the rookie, who has eight starts under his belt.
“The pitch, at times, he feels lacks a polish that would allow him to throw it against big-league hitters,” Price said. “But it will define whether he’s a starter or a reliever, I really believe that. If we don’t make him throw it, then he’ll end up being a relief pitcher.”
Romano faced Milwaukee once this season, taking the loss after allowing three runs in three innings on April 16.