Brewers vs. Braves: Take a Chance on Garza & Add Milwaukee to Your MLB Picks

Jason Lake

Thursday, May 21, 2015 12:07 PM GMT

The Milwaukee Brewers are no longer the worst MLB pick in the majors. The Atlanta Braves had better watch out Thursday when they open a four-game set with the Brew Crew.

Jason's 2015 record as of May 19: 21-14, plus-5.72 units ML; 0-2, minus-2.05 units Total

They say managers don't really matter all that much in baseball. Tell that to the Milwaukee Brewers; since firing Ron Roenicke on May 3 and replacing him with Craig Counsell, the Brew Crew have played .500 ball at 8-8, improving to 15-26 (minus-9.83 units) on the season. They're still in last place in the NL Central, but at least they're not last in the majors anymore.

There could be some value in the Brewers as they prepare to visit the Atlanta Braves (19-20, plus-1.36 units) for the start of a four-game set this Thursday – first pitch is at 7:10 p.m. Eastern. It's hard to get a fix on the Braves these days. They've won four of their last five games, though, and one of their bigger moneymakers will be taking the mound when Julio Teheran twirls against the wildly inconsistent Matt Garza. The MLB odds at press time have Atlanta pegged at –125.

 

Vocational Guidance Counsell
Whatever went wrong in Milwaukee this year, it's probably not Roenicke's fault. Nor should we read too much into Counsell's early success. Let's look instead at the players – Carlos Gomez (.818 OPS) in particular. The two-time All-Star was knocked out of commission in mid-April with a strained right hamstring; Milwaukee lost 11 of the 14 games he missed. In the games Gomez has played since returning on May 2, the Brewers are 9-6. Manage that.

If only Garza (5.39 FIP) were that easy to figure out. He's having the worst season of his 10-year career in the bigs, although there have been more good times than bad lately. Garza even strung together four quality starts before getting lit up for 10 runs in Saturday's 14-1 loss to the New York Mets (–134 at home). Maybe he just needs a hug. Or maybe he needs catcher Jonathan Lucroy (.837 OPS last year) to come back off the DL and provide some of that world-famous pitch framing.

 

No WAR
As for the Braves, it's not like Teheran (5.54 FIP) has been setting the world on fire. He rarely goes beyond six innings, and his teammates have bailed him out with 5.75 runs per game of support. That's not likely to continue; going into Wednesday's action, Atlanta ranked No. 18 in hitting at 3.8 WAR, with a milquetoast .702 OPS (No. 17).

Don't expect a lot of help from the bullpen, either. The Braves relief corps ranks No. 27 in the majors at 0.0 WAR. That's zero-point-zero, with a 4.42 combined FIP – also No. 27 overall. And Atlanta used up four relievers in Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays (–131 away), including top set-up man Jim Johnson (3.47 FIP, 12 holds) and closer Jason Grilli (2.49 FIP, 12 saves).

 

Fantasy Corner
If you're willing to take a chance on Garza, he's owned in just 36% of Yahoo leagues as we go to press, and he's only one year removed from going 8-8 with a healthy 3.54 FIP. What's that? You'd rather put broken glass on your pizza? In that case, let's turn our attention to Milwaukee's batting order. Current Brewers only have a combined .704 OPS versus Teheran, but why not give our old friend Aramis Ramirez (.733 OPS) a spin? He's 2-for-5 lifetime against Teheran with a double, three RBIs and a .933 OPS. And Ramirez is owned in 43% of Yahoo leagues.

In the meantime, we'll have a slice of that pizza. Milwaukee has definitely turned a corner since Counsell was hired and Gomez returned to action. Now it's up to Garza to show some resiliency and bounce back into shape. Add Milwaukee to your MLB picks this Thursday.

Free MLB Pick: Take the Brewers at BookMaker