The Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays will square off in a Wednesday matinee at Tropicana Field, concluding a short two-game set.

Brandon Woodruff returned to the mound for the Brewers last night, striking out 10 over five innings and leading the National League Central leaders to a 5-3 victory.

Jalen Beeks (1-1, 2.59 ERA) will take the ball this afternoon, ensuring a bullpen day for Tampa Bay. Beeks, a reliever, has not thrown more than 2 ⅓ innings in a game this season.

Milwaukee will turn to Eric Lauer (6-3, 3.89 ERA). Lauer was a revelation for the Brewers throughout May, but he has come crashing back down to Earth in June. The southpaw has been awful this month, sporting a 6.94 ERA over 23 ⅓ innings of work.

Let’s take a look at the angles for this matchup between two hopeful postseason contenders.

Lauer’s Vulnerability is Beginning to Show

When you are getting torched by the likes of the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals, some re-evaluation needs to take place.

Lauer gave up 12 runs between the Reds and the Nationals earlier this month. He gives up hard-hit balls at an alarming rate, ranking in the bottom quarter of hard-hit percentage and xSLG percentage in the league.

The Rays have not been friendly to lefties as of late. They have a wRC+ of 141 which is good for sixth in baseball.

Utility infielder Issac Paredes has been scorching hot to begin the summer. He has 10 home runs and 21 RBIs and touts a .927 OPS.

As key injuries in Kevin Kiermaier, Manuel Margot, Mike Zunino, and Brandon Lowe have piled up for the Tampa Bay offense, Parades has stepped up in a huge way, providing big power from the right side of the box.

The Tampa Bay Rays will look to come out of the gates hot and fast after earning a loss last night, welcoming the sight of a diminishing Lauer on the mound.

Milwaukee’s Offense Has Cooled

The Brewers are still first place in the NL Central, but the St. Louis Cardinals are gaining ground fast. St. Louis is only a ½ game back, and Milwaukee has picked the wrong time to sputter on the offensive end.

Milwaukee is 23rd in batting average (.235), 24th in hits per game (7.79), and ranks toward the bottom of the league in grounding into double plays.

Rowdy Tellez has enjoyed a nice year at the plate, launching 13 homers and driving in 45 runs and former NL MVP Christian Yelich has stayed healthy so far, but the Brewers lack reliable hitting. Mike Brosseau has the highest batting avg. (.282) on the squad.

Prediction

Both offenses are stunted in this matchup, but I will oppose the team that has the plummeting starting pitcher, and that is Milwaukee.

Anything can happen to Beeks, but he should turn in a solid short outing today. Lauer has been extremely disappointing as of late and the Tampa Bay Rays will be more difficult to face than the Reds or the Nationals.

Back the Rays on the moneyline (-130) to bounce-back and take care of business.

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