Pirates, Musgrove a prime matchup for Brewers' offense
After failing to capitalize against a rookie pitcher in Minnesota, the Milwaukee Brewers have a solid opportunity to get back on track when they open a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.
Right-hander Joe Musgrove is set to go for the Pirates in the series opener, and while he posted a 1.54 ERA through six games to start the season, he's struggled mightily in May.
Musgrove has an 8.25 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP in five starts and 24 innings pitched this month.
Opposing batters are hitting .373 against Musgrove with runners in scoring position this month, up from just .262 in March and April.
If the Brewers can get to Musgrove early, they should be in good shape.
Milwaukee is 24-8 (.750) when scoring first this season, just behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (25-7, .781) and Philadelphia Phillies (22-5, .815), who have the best such winning percentage in baseball.
One potential wrench in this plan: Pirates first baseman Josh Bell, currently hitting .345/.409/.718 with a 1.128 OPS and 18 home runs.
Bell has been even better this month.
He's hitting .398/.454/.833 with a 1.287 OPS and 12 home runs in 27 games in May.
Of course, Milwaukee has its own star slugger in Christian Yelich.
Yelich has been on a tear over his last 162 games, and leads the majors in batting average (.328), home runs (52), RBI (135), OPS (1.076) and slugging percentage (.659) over that span.
The Brewers will counter with right-hander Chase Anderson, who returned to the rotation last month after making five appearances out of the bullpen to start the season.
Anderson has been much more effective as a starter.
He's posted a 2.55 ERA and a .215 opponent batting average in 17 2/3 innings pitched as a starter, vs. a 4.50 ERA and a .256 opponent batting average in 10 innings pitched as a reliever.
Statistics courtesy of Sportradar