Jonathan Villar is heating up at just the right time for the Milwaukee Brewers, who continue their four-game series Saturday against the visiting National League East-leading Washington Nationals. After struggling for much of the season, Villar has gone 9-for-15 with five RBIs in his last four games to help Milwaukee move 3 1/2 games behind the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs and 1 1/2 back of Colorado for the second wild card.
Jimmy Nelson struck out 11 over seven shutout innings and Neil Walker belted a solo homer in Friday’s 1-0 victory as the Brewers improved to 61-6 when leading after seven innings. Closer Corey Knebel has not allowed a run in his last 19 games for Milwaukee, which has won three in a row and five of its last six. Washington struck out 17 times in Friday’s contest and wasted a stellar outing by starter Tanner Roark but still saw its magic number to win the NL East drop to 14 following Miami’s loss to Philadelphia. The Nationals’ bullpen received a boost before Friday’s game with the return of Ryan Madson, who was activated from the disabled list after missing the past 17 games with a sprained right finger.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Washington), FSN Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Max Scherzer (13-5, 2.21 ERA) vs. Brewers RH Brandon Woodruff (1-1, 1.62)
After missing two starts with inflammation in the left side of his neck, Scherzer allowed one run and had 10 strikeouts in an 11-2 victory over Miami last Monday. The two-time Cy Young award winner posted a 2.05 ERA in four starts last month and has won his last five decisions dating back to June 27. Ryan Braun is hitless in 13 at-bats against Scherzer, who is 2-2 with a 2.48 ERA in seven career starts against the Brewers and has allowed one earned run or fewer in five of those outings.
Woodruff has been recalled from Triple-A Colorado Springs for his second stint with the Brewers after pitching well in his first three career starts. The 24-year-old native of Mississippi was sent to the minors on Aug. 20 because the Brewers had several upcoming off days and wanted to keep the rookie on schedule. Woodruff received a no-decision in his last start with Milwaukee on Aug. 19, when he allowed one run over 4 2/3 innings at Colorado.
1. Milwaukee C Manny Pina (hip) has not played since Tuesday and remains listed as day-to-day.
2. Washington activated LHP Enny Romero (forearm) from the disabled list and recalled RHP Erick Fedde, RHP Austin Adams, and C Raudy Read from the minors.
3. The Brewers recalled OF Brett Phillips, RHP Junior Guerra and LHP Wei-Chung Wang from Colorado Springs along with RHP Taylor Williams from Double-A Biloxi.
PREDICTION: Nationals 6, Brewers 1