It’s a battle of the National League’s top 2 teams tonight as the Philadelphia Phillies (93-48) clash once again with the Milwaukee Brewers (85-61) in Game 3 of a 4-game set at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Phillies have once again shown that their impressive pitching rotation could be the key to a long run in the post season this year, as they have quieted the usually stout hitting of the Brewers at home in the first two games of the series thus far with 7-2 and 5-3 wins on Thursday and Friday respectively. It doesn’t get any easier for Milwaukee in tonight’s match-up however, as after facing Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay, they’ll now get stuck with a dose of Cliff Lee who will take the mound against Randy Wolf this evening.
Cliff Lee (16-7, 2.47 ERA) has been on a tear down the home stretch this season, winning his last 7 decisions dating back to July 30th, and posted a 0.45 ERA for August with a 5-0 record. He’s also gone an MLB best 12-2 with a 1.45 ERA since June, so consider his performances more of a norm than just a recent trend. Coming off one of his most dominant performances of the year, in which Lee dismantled the Atlanta Braves with a 5-hit complete game shutout on only 100 pitches, in a 9-0 Phillies win, he’s a scary proposition for the Milwaukee bats to find runs again. However, in his only start this season against Milwaukee, the Brewers fared a little better than the norm against Lee, getting 8 hits off him over 6 innings on April 30th, though Philadelphia emerged a 4-3 winner in that game.
Randy Wolf (12-9, 3.47 ERA) certainly has his work cut out for him in this pitcher’s duel tonight, however he’s fared very well himself in his last 8 games, posting a 6-1 record with a 3.82 ERA over that stretch. Though not nearly as dominant as Lee has been, Wolf typically has gotten good run support at home, which may be a necessity for him to emerge with a win this evening against one of the best pitchers in the league.
Betting Lines for Philadelphia vs. Milwaukee:
Intertops.com sportsbook (read the review of Intertops.com) has Philadelphia as a -150 favorite behind Cliff Lee, while Milwaukee gets +135 odds to win at home behind Randy Wolf. The over/under is expanded for this match-up considering the Phillies ability to put up runs thus far in the series, with over 7 runs posted at -120 odds, and under 7 runs getting +100 odds.
Our Pick to Win:
Working off his 6th shutout of the season, and trying to extend his scoreless streak past the current 29 2/3 innings, Cliff Lee is the one to back heading into this match-up, as while Randy Wolf has been good, he has usually needed run support to get a win. Lee seems to just need a run or 2 per game taking into account his recent hot stretch, and proves to be just too much for the Brewers yet again tonight. Count on Philadelphia to pick up their 6th win in a row while Milwaukee drops their 5th straight game, with a dominant Lee holding the run total down in a game that ends 4-2.
Players to Watch, Philadelphia:
Ryan Howard, 1B – Howard is hitting .368 in the last week (.345 for September), but has struggled on the road, and against Randy Wolf (2-for-17 lifetime). It’s time for the big Philly batsmen to step up tonight and put one over the outfield fence.
Carlos Ruiz, C – Ruiz is quietly having a solid year behind the dish, hitting .283 in 114 games played. Though he’s by no means a power hitter, Ruiz stands out in this match-up as he’s 5-for-9 against Wolf with 3 doubles and a home run.
Players to Watch, Milwaukee:
Ryan Braun, LF – Hitting .331 on the season with 27 homers and 95 RBIs, Braun is having a career year. At home, he’s hitting .352, and has had a little success against Lee going 2-for-6. Getting him on base is key for the Brewers tonight, as it’s likely that they’ll need to cash in on a rare mistake from Cliff Lee in order to pull ahead in this game.
Prince Fielder, 1B – Fielder is one of the few who’s had solid success against Lee and the Phillies’ staff. He’s 5-for-6 lifetime with a home run and 6 RBIs against Lee and is hitting .450 on the year against the Phillies combined. He could be the one with the big stick to make a difference for the Brew Crew at home.