Tuesday, August 12, 2003

An unfamiliar face

The Brewers come to town tonight. That remark in itself holds no meaning or level of excitement. What is interesting about it is that today is August 12th, and tonight's game will be the first between the two teams this season. Three games this week, and three more in Milwaukee next week. That's it. Done. See you next year. So the Phillies -- and more specifically, their fans -- do not have much of a chance to get used to the Brewers. So what can we expect from them, other than Bob Uecker in the booth?

Not a whole heck of a lot.

Milwaukee is 46-71 on the season, good for next-to-worst in the NL. Their .393 winning percentage is better than only the Padres and Tigers in the Majors...not a great calling card. However, they are a more-than-decent 25-32 on the road. Of course, on their last road trip (Colorado, New York, and Montreal), they went 3-7.

Offensively, they are are led as they have been the last few seasons: by Richie Sexson and Geoff Jenkins. Sexson is hitting .267 on the season, with 32 HR and 86 RBI. He has picked up the pace since the All-Star break, hitting .281 with seven of those homers and 16 RBI. Jenkins hits .281, and has 22 HR and 75 RBI one season removed from a horrific leg injury. But they are about it. Wes Helms is the only other Brewer with more than 50 RBI, and he is on the DL with a hamstring injury. But there are bright spots...

Rookie Scott Podsednik is hitting .297 on the season with a .365 OBP and 23 steals, but appears to have hit a wall, as he is hitting just .226 since the break. Veteran 2B Eric Young is still swiping bases as well, with 22 on the year, despite a .336 OBP. The Brewers have also gotten 14 homers and 43 RBI from part-time man John Vander Wal; a .283 average (and .437 SLG) from C Eddie Perez; and a .630 SLG average from the sometime-hittter, sometime-pitcher Brooks Kieschnick.

On the mound, they are led by Ben Sheets (10-9, scheduled to pitch Wednesday night). Sheets is the only Brewer pitcher with double-digit victories, only pitcher with more than 150 innings pitched, and one of two (Matt Kinney) with more than 100 strikeouts. He has a 3.95 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.13. Kinney and Franklin (tonight's starter) are the only other starters worth mentioning; each has seven wins, but each has an ERA over 5.00.

Relief-wise, Mike DeJean appears to have given way to Danny Kolb, who has a 2.25 ERA on the season (9.75 K/9), but an 0.82 ERA and all six of his saves since the All-Star break.

All in all, nothing to write home about.

So the Brewers, and their .273 opponents' batting average, appear to be prime subjects for a sweep and an offensive revival -- both much needed by the home team. Let's see if the Brew Crew plays along.