Lucas Duda is hitting .351 with a .982 OPS and seven RBIs in his past 10 games. One of the things Duda has shown is the ability to handle the bat well against offspeed pitches from right-handers.
Though he misses on about one-fourth of his swings against such pitches, that’s not a bad rate at all. The major league average is about 28 percent. Duda has a .998 OPS against right-handers curves, sliders and changeups.
Among those who have seen at least 200 such pitches this season, only Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder (1.082) and Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (1.067) rate higher.
Shaun Marcum What2Watch4
Because of his propensity to throw changeups and a rather unintimidating fastball, Marcum rates high on an unusual list. As we noted on an ESPN game telecast earlier this season, his average pitch comes to the plate at 81 mph.
The only non-knuckleball throwing starting pitcher with a slower average pitching velocity is Livan Hernandez of the Nationals (79 mph).
Mike Pelfrey What2Watch4
In fairness to Pelfrey, he hasn’t had the best opportunity to take advantage of pitching in Citi Field this season. He’s made only 10 of his 25 starts there and has only one home loss this season.
Pelfrey has fared particularly well against lefties at Citi Field this season. One of the reasons is he has kept opponents from getting the fat part of the bat on the ball. Lefties are only hitting line drives one out of every nine balls in play against Pelfrey in Mets home games. They’re hitting them at double that rate in Mets road games.
Pelfrey has made a start in each of the last three seasons against the Brewers and has looked pretty good, allowing five runs in 21 innings.
If there’s a key moment with Prince Fielder up late in the game, expect to see Tim Byrdak. Fielder has one of the oddest splits in the majors as far as facing left-handed pitching is concerned. In Miller Park, he’s hitting .370 with five home runs in 73 at-bats against lefties. In other ballparks, he’s hitting .210 with no home runs in 62 at-bats against lefties.
Since giving up a home run to Fielder on Aug. 8, 2009, Byrdak has retired him six of the eight times they’ve matched up.
It’s not so much a player to watch for when you’re watching the Brewers defense, but an overall style of play. Milwaukee is one of the most aggressive shifting teams in the league. This has been viewed in baseball circles as done to compensate for the lack of range throughout its infield.
The advanced defensive metrics from Baseball Info Solutions had the Brewers infield costing the team 31 runs last season (-31 Defensive Runs Saved). This season, that cost has been reduced to 14 runs (-14 Defensive Runs Saved).
The player who has benefited the most in terms of turning batted balls into outs is second baseman Rickie Weeks, who rated as costing the Brewers 11 runs last season. This season, he is credited with 1 Defensive Run Saved. Weeks is currently on the DL.