Milwaukee Brewers vs. San Francisco Giants Matchup Preview (9/2/21): Betting Odds, Starting Lineups, Daily Fantasy Picks

In a matchup between two of MLB’s best, the NL Central-leading Brewers will look to complete a road sweep of the NL West leading Giants.

The Giants have held the best record in baseball for almost the entirety of the season. They’ve overperformed expectations like never seen before in baseball, although their recent losses has the rival Dodgers just a half-game back in the division race.

Meanwhile, the Brewers haven’t seen the same level of success, but they’ve been excellent in the second half and have proven themselves as a legitimate World Series contender. Milwaukee’s starting pitching is the best in baseball, the lineup has come around, and a sweep today would send shockwaves through the baseball universe.

That being said, let’s dive into this matchup and see if we can find some profitable angles in this superstar matchup.

Milwaukee Brewers Starting Lineup

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Milwaukee Brewers Analysis

The Brewers’ starting pitching is so good that the offense just needs to produce at any level for them to win games.

To that point: Since June 1, the Brewers rank seventh in OPS (.763) and 10th in wRC+ (105). With Milwaukee also pacing the league in starting pitcher FIP (3.21), the Brewers are a whopping 52-27 in that span. They’ve also built an insurmountable 10 game lead in their division, an even more impressive feat when you consider how the Reds have been playing.

Milwaukee’s offense seems unreliable, but after digging into the numbers, you understand just how good the Brewers can be.

The Brewers have four starters that have an OPS+ above 120, and an extra three with one above average – which includes Christian Yelich at 109. Yelich hasn’t had the best year, as he’s struggled with injuries and slumps over the course of the season. Luckily for Milwaukee fans, he’s been red-hot lately.

Yelich is working on a 10-game hit streak where he’s batting .385 with a 1.063 OPS. He’s smacked six extra base hits in the stretch and recorded nine RBIs. If Yelich can get MVP-level hot again, the Brewers may be impossible to stop – Milwuakee’s 7-3 since Yelich’s streak began.

The Brewers have some power in their lineup, but they’re mostly just disciplined. Since the offense started playing well at the beginning of July, the Brewers pair the 13th lowest strikeout rate (22.4%) with the second highest walk rate (9.9%) and the third highest OBP (.335). The lineup chases at one of the lowest rates in the league (26.5%, ninth lowest in MLB), and the strategy has led to a lot of traffic on the basepaths.

But maybe most importantly, the Brewers have capitalized on that traffic. Since June 1, the Brewers rank fifth in RBIs (387), indicating some solid hitting in timely situations.

As mentioned, the Brewers rotation is ridiculous. Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta headline the best three-man punch in MLB. However, today’s starter Eric Lauer is quietly having an effective season.

Lauer was shuffled from the bullpen to a full-time rotation role on June 14, and he hasn’t looked back since. During that span, he’s made 10 starts while averaging well over five innings per start and posting an ERA below 3.0. As a result, the Brewers are 7-4 in those games.

The southpaw relies on a four-seam and cut fastball combo, two pitches that he throws almost 75% of the time. He’s upped his cutter usage year-over-year since entering the league, and the more he throws it, the better it’s gotten:

Year% of Cutters ThrownBatting Average Allowed
202130.6%.207
202023%.250
201921.5%.309
201820%.312

While he throws it less than 15% of the time, Lauer’s slider has been particularly effective. It moves much more vertically than the league-average slider, and opponents are batting just .130 with a .168 wOBA on the pitch this season.

San Francisco Giants Starting Lineup

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San Francisco Giants Analysis 

The Giants have overperformed expectations at a historic level. Both the older veterans and the younger depth players have found a level of success that nobody could have predicted, as the Giants have six of ZiPS’ top 11 hitting overperformers:

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Given their overperformance of projections, it would be reasonable to expect some level of regression. But it hasn’t happened, as the Giants won their first seven August series and posted a 19-9 record during the month.

But the Giants have slipped up a bit recently. They’ve lost four of their last five contests and are staring down the barrel of a home sweep. Meanwhile, the division-rival Dodgers and their recent acquisitions have begun to make their move, going 21-6 in August and sneaking within a game of the division lead.

The NL West race is going to be the highlight of baseball’s final regular season month. On paper, the Dodgers have the advantage at every roster spot. But that’s not true on the field, where the Giants play a unique brand of team baseball that simply wins games.

With that said, the Giants don’t have a shot in the division race if their offense doesn’t come around. The pitching has remained elite, as the Giants pitching staff posted the second best FIP in the month of August (3.24). But the lineup has slacked, posting a below average OPS (.721), wOBA (.309), and wRC+ (95).

Some of their top hitters have been battling pesky injuries, and Kris Bryant is still listed on the injury report at the time of this writing. But that’s no excuse for the lineup’s underperformance in recent weeks, and Gabe Kapler needs to address if he doesn’t want to coach in the Wildcard game.

Speaking of the Wildcard game – Which Giant should take the mound if they find themselves there. Most, if not all, would say Kevin Gausman, who’s sure to earn some Cy Young votes after reviving his career in an unforeseen way.

Personally, however, I’m putting today’s starter in that situation. Logan Webb is a homegrown Giants pitcher who has seen a breakout season. In his age-24 season, Webb’s posted a 2.65 ERA and a 2.91 xFIP in 19 starts with the Giants. He’s averaging about 5 1/3 innings per start and the Giants have won a ridiculous 16 of those games.

Additionally, he’s only improved as the year has progressed. On May 5, Webb posted his worst start of the season, allowing six earned runs over 3 2/3 innings against the Rockies. In the 13 starts since, he hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any start, and he allowed one earned run or less in 10 of them. He posted a 1.47 ERA during the stretch, striking out 78 batters while walking only 15, and the Giants have predictably gone 12-1 in those games.

This season, Webb has made one major change that’s made all the difference: He stopped throwing a four-seam and leaned heavily into his sinker:

chart 17

Predictably, Webb’s sinker-heavy approach has led to less hard-hit fly balls and many more ground balls, as he’s posted a ground-ball rate over 61% this season. Not as predictably, however, is that Webb’s strikeout numbers have popped this season, wherein he’s striking out almost 10 batters per nine innings. And his sinker is directly responsible for that, as the strikeout rate on his sinker has jumped from 5.9% in 2020 to 10.7% in 2021.

I’m unsure of how Webb improved the whiff rate on his sinker so much, but one thing is clear either way: Webb’s sinker is a much more effective pitch than his four-seam. In 2020, Webb threw his four-seam 33.7% of the time and allowed a .417 wOBA on the pitch; but in 2021, Webb is throwing his sinker 36% of the time and allowing just a .299 wOBA.

Look out for Logan Webb this October, as the youngster is pitching better than almost anyone in the majors.

Brewers vs. Giants Daily Fantasy Angle

I really like Buster Posey in this game.

While he’s been in a bit of a slump recently, he’s seen some success against Lauer in the past, and that could provide a bounce-back spark. In 15 lifetime PA’s against Lauer, Posey is 5-for-14 with two doubles, and has posted a .313 xBA behind his 91.7 mph average exit velocity.

Plus, Posey is poised to perform well against Lauer’s arsenal. While Lauer will rely on his four-seam and cut fastball, Posey is slugging .628 against the former and .545 against the latter this season.

Given his impressive season, Posey may be slightly expensive in the DFS catcher market. However, he might also be worth it, because he could break out of his slump in a big way today.

Brewers vs. Giants Betting Odds

Webb’s recent stretch of dominance and the Giants need to avoid a sweep has me leaning towards the Giants. However, I think they’re a tad overpriced at -155, and would rather bet them in the -110 to -120 range.

Instead, I think the under provides enough value to play.

Logan Webb has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the league over the past few months, yet he’s flying under the radar and is likely undervalued in the markets.

Meanwhile, Eric Lauer hasn’t pitched supernaturally, but he’s been as effective as any back-half rotation guy in MLB. As such, the Brewers are 6-2 to the under over his past eight starts. Add in the Giants offensive struggles, and Lauer could easily pitch to the under today.

Add in that both the Brewers and Giants bullpens have posted a top 10 FIP over the past 30 days (Brewers 3.64, eighth in MLB; Giants 3.00, first in MLB), that the Giants are 9-4 to the under in their last 13 games, and that the Brewers are 5-2 to the under in their last seven games, and you have the perfect storm.

Given recent betting trends and the abilities of the team’s pitching staffs, I’ll happily play the under 8 in this game, which is currently being offered at -105 on DraftKings

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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