Network Notebook: Brewers/Yankees Series Preview

MILWAUKEE BREWERS WON'T GO AWAY, JUST AS NEW YORK YANKEES FALL APART

The final weekend before the All-Star Break includes an intriguing Interleague series matching the surprising Milwaukee Brewers (currently atop the NL Central) and the recently disappointing New York Yankees (6-16 their last 22 games). The Yanks are still very much in the Wildcard hunt in the American League, and have plenty of time to get back in gear in their divisional battle with Boston.

This could be a battle of playoff teams...but it could also be a battle of teams who will eventually miss the playoffs!

With none of the current MLB superpowers playing each other this weekend, this seems like the ideal time to get you acquainted with the Brew Crew, and to figure out what's gone wrong in the Bronx. Let's run through JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats for the teams, and this weekend's probable pitchers.

TEAM QUALITY
Milwaukee: +40 runs, while playing 49 home games and 39 road games
NY Yankees: +103 runs, while playing 40 home games and 43 road games

Based on those numbers, the Yankees still look very much like a playoff caliber team...while Milwaukee is exposed as pretender. The Brewers have played ELEVEN more home games than road games so far! What's going to happen to their record when that evens out? What's likely to happen is that the Cubs will scoot past them into control of the division. The Yankees recent run suggests that overall run differential probably overstates their quality "right now." But, this offense can be very explosive against overmatched pitchers.

In addition to the home/road dynamic, there's also a strength of schedule dynamic. Milwaukee is just 10-15 this season against teams currently at .500 or better in the standings...and that's with a home-heavy slate. The Yanks are an impressive 18-12 vs. quality. For some reason, New York can really get caught napping by losing teams. Particularly their starting pitchers.

Bottom line...Milwaukee may have a better record in your newspaper standings at 48-40 compared to 44-39. But, raw stats in proper context suggest the Yanks are the better team.

TEAM OFFENSE
Milwaukee: 5.0 runs-per-game, .323 on-base, .450 slugging
NY Yankees: 5.6 runs-per-game, .345 on-base, .453 slugging

We talked a week ago about how the Yankees' hitting stats have benefitted greatly from playing home games in a home run friendly park. Their road average is about a half-a-run worse per game. You should think of these teams as comparable offensively after adjusting for that park influence, and the fact that Milwaukee has to use its pitchers in the batting order most of the time. Flip ballparks and leagues, and Milwaukee might actually have the better pure offense. 

FRIDAY
Guerra: 4.93 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 7.1 K's per 9 innings
Montgomery: 3.62 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 8.6 K's per 9 innings

Junior Guerra is likely to be extremely overmatched in the Bronx. He's not going to overwhelm hitters with his stuff. And, that kind of ERA/WHIP combo in a weak NL division spells doom against a playoff caliber opponent in a good hitting site. Big edge to Montgomery in the opener, who's used to pitching here.

SATURDAY
Suter: 3.00 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 8.6 K's per 9 innings
Severino: 3.52 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 10.3 K's per 9 innings

Brent Suter has only made two starts this season for the Brewers, one quality. So, he could also be overmatched in this park against an AL offense using a DH. It's much easier to post good stats as a reliever than as a starter. Severino has the better WHIP and K-rate...but he's been very shaky in three of his last four outings. Might be a spot to think about the Over. But, the early starting time in an active city like New York has been known to derail road offenses after a night on the town.

SUNDAY
Nelson: 3.20 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 9.7 K's per 9 innings
Tanaka: 5.25 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 9.0 K's per 9 innings

Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson have been the aces of Milwaukee's staff. So, this is the best chance in the math for Milwaukee to get a road win. Tanaka has been home run prone, particularly in this ballpark. Good spot to think about Milwaukee or a Milwaukee/Over tandem...especially if the Brewers did lose the first two games and are trying to avoid a sweep. Just remember that the Sunday before the All-Star break overall can be an Under day because players (and umpires) want to start their vacations early.

JIM HURLEY has great sources in New York, and will have something special for you in this series if one of those reporters checks in with key information. Even if he ends up passing this series, you can be sure something BIG is coming over the final weekend of the first half of the season. Network's "trend historians" know all the angles for this very special weekend.

You can always purchase BEST BETS from NETWORK right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about extended service, please call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 to take care of business. The All-Star break is a great reminder on the calendar that it's time to start thinking about football. Be sure to check on early-bird rates when you call us.

Back with you Monday with an "at the All-Star Break" checkup for Major League Baseball. Among the possibilities for next weekend's showcase series preview are Yankees/Red Sox, Twins/Astros, and Cubs/Orioles.

There's still plenty of time to make this your biggest baseball season EVER with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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