If you are worried about the first-place Brewers, I think that worry is misplaced.
Despite their winning record, the Brewers are leading the National League in strikeouts. And Friday night in Milwaukee, they tied a major-league record for batter strikeouts in a game. In a 2-1, 12-inning loss to the Dodgers, they struck out 26 times. If that number sounds familiar, it's because 26 Cubs struck out May 7 against the Yankees. But that took 18 innings, not 12.
So the Brewers made 36 outs Friday, 26 by strikeout. Eventually that's going to catch up with them. I watched a lot of that game and the Brewers TV crew were calling them "contenders."
Strikeouts aren't the be-all and end-all of analyzing a team, but the Brewers have struck out 76 more times than the Cubs, in only one-third of a season. My prediction: that "contenders" description isn't going to last too much longer for the team from Milwaukee.
Here are today’s particulars.
Happ CF, Bryant 3B, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Heyward RF, Contreras C, Baez SS, Lester P, Schwarber LF
Fowler CF, Pham LF, Piscotty RF, Martinez 1B, Molina C, Peralta 3B, DeJong 2B, Diaz SS, Leake P
Jon Lester vs. Mike Leake
Jon Lester has made two starts against the Cardinals this year, throwing a total of 10⅔ innings and allowing three earned runs. He has walked six in those innings (bad), but struck out 19 (good!).
Probably more important for Jon in this start are his home/road splits. Home: 1.80 ERA, 0.900 WHIP, one home run in 40 innings (six starts). Road: 7.11 ERA, 2.013 WHIP, six home runs in 25⅓ innings (five starts). This was the case for Jon in 2016, too, though not to quite as much an extreme: 1.74 ERA in 15 home starts, 3.17 ERA in 17 road starts.
So this year at Wrigley Lester has been Clayton Kershaw-like. On the road he's been worse than replacement level. This being a home start, I'd expect Lester to be very good today.
Mike Leake is having by far the best year of his career, currently leading the N.L. in ERA (2.24) and ERA+ (164).
He's just not that good, I don't think. Don't get me wrong, Leake is a solid MLB starter who averages about 2 bWAR per season, but I can't see him sustaining this level.
He has one start vs. the Cubs this year, May 12 in St. Louis, where he allowed two runs in six innings. The Cubs won that game. Willson Contreras homered off Leake, who had a 3.09 ERA in May (closer to his career norms) after a 1.35 ERA in April.
Today's game is on WGN.
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