The bats have gone incredibly cold for the NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers, and because of it their season is on the line Tuesday afternoon in Game 4 of the NL Division Series at the Atlanta Braves. It will be lefty Eric Lauer on the mound for Milwaukee and Charlie Morton for Atlanta, but most every pitcher on both rosters will be available in relief. The Braves are -135 at Caesars Sportsbook with a 5:15 p.m. ET first pitch from Truist Park. The total is 8.5 runs but may drop.
The Brewers won the Central Division despite hitting just .233 on the season, tied for third-worst in the majors. So, perhaps that they are struggling in crucial spots in this series is not a shock. Milwaukee is 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position in the series. No club has gone hitless in double-digit at-bats with runners in scoring position during a division series round since the 2001 Astros went 0-for-12.
Overall, the Brewers are hitting .176 in the series. Former NL MVP Christian Yelich, Kolten Wong and Avisail Garcia are a combined 4-for-33 with zero RBIs. Milwaukee won the series opener 2-1 behind ace Corbin Burnes but has lost the past two by identical 3-0 scores. The Brew Crew's only runs came on a homer by Rowdy Tellez in Game 1.
Manager Craig Counsell has opted not to bring Burnes, who may win the NL Cy Young Award, back on short rest for Game 4.
Lauer is one of two Brewers pitchers on the roster yet to take the mound in this series. He was 7-5 with a 3.19 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 118.2 innings this season. Lauer last pitched on Oct. 1 and wasn't good, allowing five runs in five innings of a no-decision at the Dodgers. He was excellent in day outings, though, going 3-0 with a 2.32 ERA in 50.1 innings. He faced the Braves on May 14 and took a no-decision, allowing three runs over three innings.
Atlanta will go with its ace Morton (14-6, 3.34) on short rest. He was a tough-luck loser in Game 1 last Friday in Milwaukee, allowing two runs and three hits over six. Tellez went yard off him in the seventh. Morton was 6-3 with a 3.61 ERA in 18 home starts this year. The 37-year-old Morton last pitched on short rest as a 24-year-old on Aug. 17, 2008, when he was a rookie with the Braves.
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