The Brewers are 5-22 in May and 14 games under .500 this season, but this is not a team to look past. Milwaukee has a potent offense that can explode on any given night.
The Brewers have five starters batting between .296 and .358, and four with an OPS of .899 or better. The Phillies don't have anybody within 78 points of that OPS.
Jean Segura leads the NL with 73 hits, five triples and a .358 batting average. He and Carlos Gomez (.326 BA, 10 HR, .589 SLG) have more hits than any National League duo. You may also be familiar with the work of Ryan Braun. Oh, and Phillie-killer Aramis Ramirez (6 HR, 6 2B, 17 RBI last 17 games vs. Phils) bats cleanup.
Milwaukee's record can be explained by terrible pitching. The Brewers' starting staff has the highest ERA (5.43) and WHIP (1.47) in the NL. They fall behind in seemingly every game.
The Phillies need to continue that trend and get out to early leads in this series. The Brewers are 1-17 -- yes, 1-17 -- when trailing after two innings this season. (The Phillies are 6-12.)
Cole Hamels (1-8, 4.43) must be very careful with Segura. The shortstop has tremendous opposite-field power (especially for a little guy) and is 21-for-42 when going the other way. His numbers on outside pitches are ridiculous -- he's hitting between .400 and .500 in every zone outside, including low or away off the plate.
Gomez can't be thrown first-pitch fastballs. He's already swung at the first pitch 33 times this year and is hitting .438 with five extra-base hits. His rate of swings at pitches outside the zone is nearly identical to Ryan Howard's, so that's how he must be approached.
The Phils get Yovani Gallardo (3-5, 4.79) in the series opener. The Mexican right-hander is off to a typically slow start, averaging just 5.6 innings per start.
Gallardo has dominated the Phillies the last two times they faced him, going 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 14 innings. The Phils hit .143 in those games.
Chad Durbin was mercifully released on Friday, a night after three more earned runs pushed his ERA to 9.00. The opposition was hitting .357 with a 1.063 OPS off him. He had been scored on in eight of 16 appearances. It was time.
The Phils are on the hook for the entirety of Durbin's $850,000 salary in 2013, plus his $250,000 buyout for next year.
Joe Savery was recalled for the third time from Lehigh Valley to take Durbin's spot.
1) Ben Revere, CF
2) Cesar Hernandez, 2B
3) Jimmy Rollins, SS
4) Ryan Howard, 1B
5) Domonic Brown, LF (2nd time this season batting ahead of Delmon Young)
6) Delmon Young, RF
7) Freddy Galvis, 3B
8) Humberto Quintero, C
9) Cole Hamels, P