Starting today, the Reds face the Brewers for only the second time this year. But don’t worry, we’ll be seeing plenty of them from here on out.

The Reds, as you know, are in first place. The Brewers are, um, not. Really not. Frankly, the Brewers have to be about as disappointing to their fans as the Reds were to us last year. This is a team that was supposed to be a serious competitor. But, instead, they are 6 1/2 games back and haven’t really looked good all year. Let’s take a look at the team and talk about what went wrong here.

Likely Lineup

  1. Norichika Aoki (L) – RF
  2. Nyjer Morgan (L) -  CF
  3. Ryan Braun (R) – LF
  4. Aramis Ramirez (R) – 3B
  5. Corey Hart (R) – 1B
  6. Richie Weeks (R) – 2B
  7. Martin Maldonado (R) – C
  8. Cody Ransom (R) – SS

This is a team that, in general, has hit. Offense was supposed to be the question with the Brewers. It’s true that Morgan, Ransom, who’s playing for the injured Alex Gonzalez, and Weeks haven’t hit, but there’s a fair bit of production here. Overall, the offense has been above average. Ryan Braun, while not quite Joey Votto, has been extraordinary with a .320/.401/.617 line.

Pitching Probables

  • Mat Latos (5-2 4.97 FIP) vs. Yovani Gallardo (6-5, 4.07 FIP)
  • Bronson Arroyo (3-5 4.46 FIP) vs. Marco Estrada (0-3, 5.01 FIP)
  • Homer Bailey (5-5 4.53 FIP) vs. Zack Greinke (8-2, 2.06 FIP)

Gallardo is one of several Brewers pitchers who’ve been a bit unlucky this year. His ERA is higher than it should be, and even his FIP shows some bad luck as he’s probably given up more home runs than should be expected. Of course, that’s not likely to get better at GABP. We all keep waiting for Mat Latos to click. Once he does, it’s going to be fun. Today is as good a time as ever.

Amazingly, the second game of the series is the one the Reds should most expect to win. I say amazingly because I don’t think any of us thought Arroyo would look this good this year. His control has been simply fabulous. Even if he does lose his mojo after six innings, I’ve become comfortable with him being out there. Estrada hasn’t been good, but he hasn’t been this bad, either. It’s unlikely that he keeps giving up homers at a rate that makes Bronson look stingy with the long ball. Still, this is the game the Reds must feel like they have in hand.

What do you say about Zack Greinke? Let’s just call him scary good, hope Homer has a good day, and that the Brewers boot a few balls.

The Bullpen

This is where I get to talk about why the Brewers are disappointing. Their defense stinks. Stinks. They simply aren’t turning balls put in play into outs. The result is a lot of guys with uglier numbers than they deserve. Among their six primary relievers, only Kameron Loe has an ERA lower than his FIP. FIP, by the way, stands for Fielding Independent Pitching for a reason.

The DL

The Brewers do have some significant injuries. Here they are:

  • Marco Estrada (RP)
  • Jonathan Lucroy (C)
  • Shaun Marcum (SP)
  • Alex Gonzalez (SS) – Out for the season