The Brewers struggled to seize control of the National League Central prior to the All-Star Break, failing to take advantage of a Chicago Cubs’ team that lost five of their last seven games prior to the Mid-Summer Classic. Instead, the Brewers endured a slump of their own, losing five of their last six games, including back-to-back series against the division-rival Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates. As a result, the division race has tightened up considerably with all five teams within 4.5-games of each other heading into the weekend. Milwaukee currently trails the Cubs by a half-game for the top spot and they also trail the Philadelphia Phillies by a half-game for the final Wild Card slot in the National League. Can the Brewers get back on the winning track with a winnable series versus the Giants this weekend?
Anderson to open second half for Giants
The Giants will hand the ball to rookie right-hander Shaun Anderson, who will be making just the 11th start of his career on Friday night. The 24-year-old debuted in mid-May and hasn’t looked back, taking over a permanent slot in manager Bruce Bochy’s starting rotation. He allowed four earned runs or less in all 10 of his starts during the first half and enters with a 3-2 record to go along with a respectable 4.23 ERA so far this season. However, Anderson enters Friday’s start fresh off his shortest outing of the year after tossing four innings of four-run ball versus the San Diego Padres prior to the All-Star Break.
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Perhaps more concerning for Giants, Anderson’s strikeout rate has completely disappeared at the MLB level. After striking out more than a batter per inning in seven Triple-A starts, the rookie has found it tough to put away big league hitters, fanning just 5.20 batters per nine so far this year. Instead, he’s made his living by staying outside of the strike zone, posting just zone percentage of only 49.8 percent. That might be his best recipe for success though, as hitters are making contact at a 90.3 percent rate on pitches inside the strike zone. This will be Anderson’s first career start against the Brewers.
Brewers looking to take control of NL Central race
Milwaukee will try to reverse their recent struggles by sending right-hander Chase Anderson to the hill at Miller Park for their series opener against the Giants. The 31-year-old is 4-3 with a 4.32 ERA in 17 appearances (12 starts) , but he’s completed six innings or more just one time this season. Manager Craig Counsel has given Anderson a shorter leash this season, often electing to pull him after he’s been through the order twice, so he’ll get the call in Game 1 with a fully rested bullpen behind him. However, the Brewers’ veteran has been better as of late, allowing two earned runs or less in each of his last three starts. He will have to find a better way to deal with right-handed hitters if he wants to survive the second half in Milwaukee’s starting rotation. Anderson sports reverse splits this year, limiting left-handed hitters to a slim .174 batting average, but allowing righties to bat .312 with a .934 OPS against him.
Anderson started against the Giants on June 16, surrendering three earned runs in four innings of work, but was rendered with a no-decision in a 5-3 Brewers’ victory. He’s had plenty of success against San Francisco since 2016, going 2-0 with a 2.66 ERA in his previous four starts against them dating back to 2016. According to Baseball Savant, the current Giants’ roster is batting .220 in 110 plate appearances off of Anderson heading into Friday’s matchup.
- Giants are 6-1 in their last 7 overall.
- Giants are 5-2 in their last 7 vs. National League Central.
- Giants are 7-3 in their last 10 during game 1 of a series.
- Brewers are 2-9 in their last 11 when their opponent allows 2 runs or less in their previous game.
- Brewers are 1-5 in their last 6 overall
- Brewers are 1-7 in their last 8 vs. National League West.