The Milwaukee Brewers will turn to ace right-hander Corbin Burnes as they look to get back on track Friday when they kick off the second half with the opener of a four-game series against the visiting Colorado Rockies.
Burnes (7-4, 2.14 ERA), the reigning National League Cy Young winner, will be opposed by right-hander Antonio Senzatela (3-5, 4.95 ERA), who is scheduled to be activated off the 15-day injured list (right shoulder inflammation).
The Brewers, hampered by key injuries the first half — especially in the rotation — lost three straight and six of eight heading into the All-Star break, but still lead the NL Central by a half-game over St. Louis.
“Unfortunately, a couple games didn’t go our way that were winnable here,” manager Craig Counsell said following the Brewers’ 9-5 loss at San Francisco to close the first half. “That stings a little bit going into the break, but now it’s time to recharge and get ready for a fun second half.”
The Rockies won seven of 10 heading into the break, but are still in fourth place, 18 1/2 games back, in the rugged NL West entering Thursday’s action. They’re 6 1/2 games out in the wild-card chase.
Burnes, who was selected for the All-Star Game but chose not to pitch, is 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA over his last seven starts. He allowed just one earned run in 14 1/3 innings in his previous two starts without a decision.
Burnes is 1-1 with a 5.71 ERA in six career appearances vs. Colorado, including two starts — both last season.
Closer Josh Hader, almost unhittable in the first two months, struggled heading into the break. In his last outing, Hader allowed six runs in 1/3 of an inning, giving up three home runs — including a walk-off grand slam — in an ugly 8-5 loss at San Francisco.
Hader is 0-3 with 20.25 ERA, allowing 12 runs on 13 hits in 5 1/3 innings in his last seven outings.
The Brewers are second in the NL in homers, but have no regular hitting above .255 and have been shutout eight times. Milwaukee is 10-28 when scoring three runs or fewer.
Senzatela, who went on the IL on July 2, allowed one run on four hits in five innings in a rehab start at Triple-A Albuquerque on July 12.
Senzatela is 1-3 with a 5.01 ERA in his last seven starts for the Rockies, allowing 18 runs on 46 hits in 32 1/3 innings. He is 1-0 in five career starts vs. the Brewers with a 3.12 ERA.
Colorado, 28-23 at home and 15-27 on the road, leads the majors with a .262 team batting average, but is hitting .287 at home and .233 away from Coors Field. The Rockies have 61 homers at home compared with just 24 on the road.
The Rockies’ offense has been bolstered by the return of Kris Bryant off the injured list. Bryant has played in just 33 games but is hitting .302, including .370 with three homers in his last seven games.
“We’ll pick it up on Friday and hopefully pick up where we left off, playing good baseball,” Rockies manager Bud Black said following the last game before the break. “We’ve got to pitch, we’ve got to play defense, we’ve got to score runs. A pretty simple formula. If you do all that, I don’t think everything has to go right, you’ve got to play well and that’s what we’ve been doing lately.”
–Field Level Media