The St. Louis Cardinals begin a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday. Here are five things you should know about the inter-division foe:
1. The playoffs run through the Brewers
The Brewers are 18.5 games behind the division-leading Pittsburgh Pirates and 16 games out of the second wild card spot, but will have numerous opportunities to reshape the National League playoff picture. Twenty four chances to be exact.
The Brewers will play postseason contenders a total of 24 games in their final 38 contests. This includes nine games against the Cardinals, six games against the Cincinnati Reds, six games against the Pittsburgh Pirates and three games against the Atlanta Braves, who sit 15.5 games ahead of the NL East second-best Washington Nationals.
2. Ryan Braun’s 65-game suspension
It’s been nearly a month since Ryan Braun was suspended 65 games for violations of the basic agreement and its joint drug prevention and treatment program.
The Brewers were 27-32 in games Braun started and are 27-38 when he doesn’t start -- including a 13-14 record since his suspension was handed down. Khris Davis has seen the bulk of play in left field in Braun’s absence and has posted a .305 average (18-for-59) with six home runs and 13 RBI in 34 games played -- all in left field this season.
3. Kyle Lohse is the Brewers best starter
Kyle Lohse is expected to make his next start on Tuesday against his former team. It will be his third game started against the Cardinals this year. In the previous two starts against St. Louis, Lohse went 0-2 and allowed six runs in 13 innings pitched. This will be his first start against St. Louis in Milwaukee.
The start will tie Lohse for a team-high 26th start of the season. After losing six of his first seven decisions, he has been the victor in seven of his last nine decisions.
His 8-8 record is off from his 16-3 record last year for St. Louis, but his ERA is only slightly higher -- 2.86 in 2012, 3.17 in 2013.
Lohse has given up 21 home runs in 153.1 innings pitched after allowing 19 in 211 innings last year. It’s the highest home run allowed total since he gave up 22 in 178.2 innings pitched in 2005 for the Minnesota Twins.
4. Jean Segura is among the best shortstops in the league
Segura has been a hit machine for the Brewers. He is tied for sixth in the majors with Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter at 149 hits. He has the fourth-most home runs hit (12) by a shortstop in the majors this season and has stolen a team-high 36 bases.
All of this success has come during his first full-time gig in the majors. He was part of a trade deadline deal involving Zack Greinke to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last year. The 23-year-old won’t become a free agent until 2019.
5. Brewers can’t solve the Cardinals
The Cardinals are 8-2 against the Brewers this season after a sweep at Milwaukee in May. The four-game win streak at Miller Park also puts St. Louis two games behind their six-game win streak in Milwaukee from July 2009 to April 2010. Overall, the Cardinals are 57-40 at Miller Park.
St. Louis leads the all-time series with a 138-106 record.