The Milwaukee Brewers (87-66) are looking to sew up the NL Central while the Miami Marlins (79-74) are hope to keep pace in the hectic NL Wild Card race as these two teams meet for a huge three-game series in Miami this weekend. First pitch of Friday’s opener from loanDepot Park is set for 6:40 p.m. ET. Milwaukee will send ace Corbin Burnes (9-8, 3.56 ERA) to the hill, while the Marlins will use Bryan Hoeing (2-2, 4.19) as the bulk option in what figures to be a bullpen day for the Fish.
The Brewers have won three in a row and seven of 10, lowering their magic number in the Central to just two as the Cubs continue to flounder. This is their final road series of the year, as they’ll head back to Milwaukee to face the Cardinals and Cubs next week. Miami, meanwhile, is in a dead heat with those same Cubs for the third and final NL Wild Card spot, with series against the Mets and Pirates on tap next week.
Milwaukee enters as -135 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Marlins at +114. The run total is set at 7.5.
Brewers-Marlins picks: Friday, September 22
Out: DH Jesse Winker (quad), OF Garrett Mitchell (shoulder), 1B/DH Darin Ruf (knee), RP Elvis Peguero (elbow)
Day to day: 3B Jake Burger (quad), INF Luis Arraez (ankle), C Nick Fortes (soreness)
Out: SP Sandy Alcantara (elbow), OF Avisail Garcia (hamstring), RP Huascar Brazoban (hamstring, hip)
Corbin Burnes vs. Bryan Hoeing
After a sensational month of July, Burnes has been a bit bumpy in the second half for Milwaukee. The former Cy Young winner has allowed four or more runs four times in his last seven starts, including two of his last three. He gave up four runs on seven hits over six innings against the Pirates to start September, then allowed four runs on five hits and three walks in 5.2 frames against the Nationals last weekend. The strikeouts have still very much been there — he’s fanned 23 over 19.2 innings this month — but his command simply hasn’t been as sharp as we’re used to seeing.
With Johnny Cueto shifting to the bullpen, Miami will use Hoeing as their bulk man tonight. The righty hasn’t thrown more than 4.2 innings since June, most recently allowing three runs on four hits and a walk in 4.1 innings of work against the Braves last weekend. Prior to that outing, though, he hadn’t allowed more than one run since before the All-Star break, with a 3.60 ERA in the second half. The 26-year-old doesn’t have a particularly electric arsenal, but he uses his sinker over 50% of the time to force a ton of ground balls and trust his defense to make plays behind him.
These two teams met last week, and the totals were four, two and six — and that was without a pitcher of Burnes’ caliber on the mound. The righty has been shaky of late, but his stuff remains as good as ever, and I think he’ll bounce back tonight against a Marlins lineup that’s been a bottom-10 outfit against right-handed pitching this season. If he holds Miami in check at the plate, I don’t know that the Brewers have the sort of firepower to hit this over by themselves.
Pick: Under 7.5
Burnes hasn’t exactly earned our trust of late, but I’m giving it to him anyway. He should be able to overpower this righty-heavy Miami crew, and he’s still got far more upside on the mound than Hoeing. The Marlins have been able to work their late-game magic in tough spots all year, but eventually that magic has to run out.
Pick: Brewers -135