A challenging stretch doesn't get any easier for Matt Garza and the Brewers, who take on the National League East-leading Nationals and starter Gio Gonzalez at Miller Park on Saturday.
For Milwaukee, the matinee marks roughly the halfway point of a stretch when the Brew Crew faces five of the NL's top six teams for all but two of 28 games.
"Every team has portions of their schedule that you're playing stretches of good teams," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "We pointed this out in Spring Training and said, 'Starting with the Mets series [on June 9], we were going to go through a stretch through the All-Star break that we're playing what was expected to be the best teams in the National League.'"
For the Nationals, Gonzalez looks to regain his form. Gonzalez owned a 1.86 ERA on May 18, but has a 5.84 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in June, including a five-run outing on eight hits and four walks in his last start.
Garza is scheduled to make his third start after returning from the 60-day DL with a right lat strain earlier this month. Despite giving up 13 hits over 10 innings, Garza has only surrendered one run -- thanks in part to only one walk.
Three things to know about this game
• Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is expected back after a day off Friday. Milwaukee has been monitoring Braun's playing time cautiously, as the 32-year-old has battled nagging back and neck injuries this season. Braun entered the weekend batting .320 with a .915 OPS and 12 home runs.
• Washington has not lost a series to Milwaukee since May 2011, when the Brewers swept a series at Miller Park.
• Keep an eye on Gonzalez's tempo. If he's in a rhythm early, it could spell trouble for the Brewers. His average time between pitches, however, is at a career-high 21.8 seconds this season, according to Fangraphs. His curveball movement both horizontally and vertically has decreased in June as well.