Tonight, the Brewers have a golden opportunity to lock down a strong advantage in the NLCS.
However, to do it they'll probably need a strong start from Shaun Marcum (3.54 ERA, 3.73 FIP in 2011, 13.50 ERA, 6.45 FIP postseason), and lately that's been a lot to ask for. Marcum struggled in three of his last four regular season starts and again on Tuesday, allowing seven runs on seven hits over 4.2 innings.
This is the paragraph where I normally tell you about recent trends with Marcum's stuff, but today Jack Moore of FanGraphs beat me to the punch. He's not seeing a notable decline in Marcum's fastball velocity but did notice a sharp decline in the usage of his changeup, which has always been his most effective pitch. Whether Marcum is fatigued or simply struggling with the change, he probably needs to find a way to throw it well and often to be effective.
This is the fifth time Marcum has faced the Cardinals in 2011, and three of the previous four outings were pretty good:
|June 12||7||5||3||3||2||8||Brewers win, 4-3|
|August 2||6||7||6||6||1||2||Cardinals win, 8-7|
|August 9||6||8||3||3||1||3||Brewers win, 5-3|
|August 30||7||4||2||0||3||4||Cardinals win, 2-1|
Eight Cardinals have faced Marcum ten times or more:
He'll face off against Edwin Jackson (3.79 ERA, 3.55 FIP in 2011, 2.61 ERA, 3.75 FIP postseason). He's making his fifth career postseason appearance: He worked in relief three times as a member of the 2008 Rays, and this is his second start as a member of the Cardinals. He pitched six innings in NLDS Game 4 on Wednesday, allowing two runs on five hits over six innings. The Cardinals won the game, 5-3.
You might not have realized it (I didn't), but Jackson is quite the workhorse. He's only 28 but has averaged roughly 208 innings over the last three regular seasons. The list of pitchers to break 200 innings three times before their 29th birthday recently is pretty elite company: Justin Verlander, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver and Cole Hamels.
Jackson faced the Brewers three times in August, with extraordinarily mixed results:
|August 3||7||14||10||8||1||6||Brewers win, 10-5|
|August 9||6||6||3||2||2||2||Brewers win, 5-3|
|August 30||7||6||1||1||0||3||Cardinals win, 2-1|
Eight Brewers have faced Jackson ten times or more:
|Jerry Hairston Jr||13||.545||.615||.545||1.161|
Here's tonight's lineup:
And in the bullpen:
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (19 pitches) last night.
John Axford pitched one inning (13 pitches) last night, and Ron Roenicke confirmed he's available.
Takashi Saito pitched one inning (13 pitches) last night.
Chris Narveson, Marco Estrada and Kameron Loe pitched on Wednesday.
LaTroy Hawkins hasn't pitched since Sunday, October 2.
The roof is expected to be open tonight, with the game time temperature around 63 and dropping into the 50's as the night goes along.