Three Key Storylines as the Brewers Battle the Angels

April 27th, 2023

After dropping consecutive series for the first time this season, a matchup with the Los Angeles Angels is on deck.

The Crew looks to get back on track against a 13-12 Angels squad that boasts some of the game’s brightest stars, including Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.

Here’s what to expect ahead of this weekend’s highly anticipated action at American Family Field.

MVPs Headline High-Powered Angels Offense

For the first time since 2016, the Angels will square off with the Brewers in Milwaukee. The matchup marks a chance to take on two of the game’s biggest stars, as it will be Mike Trout’s third career visit to the Brew City and the first for two-way stud Shohei Ohtani.

The pair of former MVPs boast enough star power to carry the entire Angels offense, and Trout enters the action among AL leaders in fWAR (1.4), wRC+ (176) and slugging percentage (.578). Ohtani has been one of MLB’s most dominant pitchers this season, and despite a modest start at the plate (for his standards) – he's heating up. The phenom sits in MLB’s 89th percentile in both hard-hit percentage and expected slugging and has belted two homers in his last four games.

Stars aside, it’s been the Hunter Renfroe show carrying the Angels. The former Brewer leads the team with seven homers and 19 RBI on the young season to go along with an excellent 157 wRC+.

With the Angels trio of sluggers, the Brewers pitching staff must keep the ball in the park. The home run ball has been a thorn in the Crew’s side this past week with eight homers already surrendered on this homestand.

Brewers Battle Trio of Lefties

While the Crew will avoid facing Shohei Ohtani on the bump, the Angels starting rotation presents a different challenge for Milwaukee: all three scheduled starters are southpaws.

The Brewers will take on the Halos’ trio of Tyler Anderson, Reid Detmers and Jose Suarez this weekend, three lefties who have been inconsistent at best to start the year.

However, Brewers bats have struggled mightily against left-handed pitching. Heading into the series, the Crew has posted just a .205 batting average against lefty hurlers.

It’s a great opportunity for the offense to find their groove versus southpaws, as Tyler Anderson and Jose Suarez are coming off back-to-back performances allowing five or more earned runs. Expect plenty of Mike Brosseau and a heavy dose of right-handed bats for the Crew.

Contreras on the Rise

The early return on the William Contreras acquisition? Fantastic. So far, he’s been one of the best catchers in baseball by a variety of metrics.

The Brewers catcher has collected a hit in all but three games he’s played this season. While the Crew has struggled as a team against lefties, Contreras has raked versus southpaws to the tune of a team-high 199 wRC+ -- the second highest mark among MLB catchers.

Even more impressive is Contreras’ significant defensive improvement. Last season, he ranked No. 47 in catcher framing runs; this season, he ranks second. Additionally, he’s become a true backstop for Brewers pitching, collecting four catcher blocks above average.

The only part missing from Contreras’ game has been the power stroke. But after hitting his first home run of the season on Monday, he may be ready to don the cheesehead more often this year.