…oh, yeah. There’s one more series left to go. Sorry, I almost (I said almost, Kyle) forgot to do this.
You’ll have to forgive Brewers fans for maybe, possibly, kinda overlooking this weekend’s series against the Detroit Tigers. These are exciting times, many fans have playoff tickets in hand, and a 95-loss team is coming to town.
But, as the players and coaches were quick to point out between Miller Lite and champagne showers on Wednesday night, they want another celebration this weekend. In order to do that — and catch the Cubs for the NL Central crown — they’ll likely need to sweep the Tigers and hope the Cubs stumble a couple times against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Ned Yost math says there’s still a chance, but the Tigers have nothing to play for other than ruining someone else’s weekend and are trying to become one of the worst third-place teams in baseball history.
Detroit’s lineup isn’t anything terribly intimidating — especially after the Brewers maneuvered their way through a dangerous Cardinals lineup this week — but Nick Castellanos can still make you pay if you put guys on ahead of him. He’s hitting .298/.353/.497 with a .361 wOBA, 129 wRC+, 22 home runs and a career-high 45 doubles this year. The rest of the lineup would make for a pretty meh group for the Toledo Mud Hens, let alone a Major League team. Former Cardinal Pete Kozma is getting some playing time, though, and despite his .200/.224/.323 line will likely hurt the Brewers in some way this weekend.
Sunday – 2:10 p.m. CDT
Spencer Turnbull vs. TBA
Tonight is a bit of a homecoming for Zimmermann, who was born in Auburndale and went to college at UW-Stevens Point before being drafted by Washington in the 2nd round of the draft. He’s pitched much better than he did last year, when he struggled all year and ended with a 6.08 ERA/5.18 FIP and allowed an MLB-leading 108 earned runs. This season, he’s gotten better luck — his 4.31 ERA is lower than his 4.74 FIP — but the numbers are much more in line with career averages, although he did miss some time in May and June. He’s coming off an outing in which he allowed just 2 runs on 3 hits over 7 innings against the Royals last Saturday. The Tigers hope he can finish the year strong, considering he still has 2 years and $50 million left on the 5-year contract he signed prior to the 2016 season.
Norris has missed much of the season after going in for core muscle surgery to relieve pain from a groin injury in May. He was activated off the 60-day disabled list at the start of September and has made 5 starts this month, predictably fighting through some rust in those outings. He’s allowed 13 runs and walked 8 in 24.1 innings, although his strikeout stuff is still as good as ever, punching out 25. He’s coming off the best start since his return, when he held the Royals to 1 run over 5 innings, only giving up a first inning solo home run before settling in. The 25-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and could be auditioning for a possible trade if the Tigers are considering continuing their rebuild.
Turnbull will take the ball on the season’s final day, making his third career big league start. He’s allowed 7 runs in 11 innings to this point, with most of that damage coming in his first start, when the Twins piled on for 6 runs in 4 innings. He settled down in his second go-around against Minnesota, allowing just 1 run over 6 innings. Turnbull is a former second round pick of the Tigers who has missed significant time over the past few years as he battled multiple injuries. Despite his status as a high draft pick, he was always projected as more of a mid-rotation type, and shoulder injuries may have scaled that back to a back-of-rotation profile. He doesn’t throw hard and didn’t have terribly impressive numbers in the minors, putting up a 4.47 ERA in 19 starts at Double-A, walking 40 batters in 98.2 innings there.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference