Today's Matchup: Brewers (Greinke) vs Cardinals (Garcia)

Today is kind of a big deal.

The Brewers open the National League Championship Series with Zack Greinke (3.83 ERA, 2.98 FIP in 2011, 7.20 ERA, 8.03 FIP playoffs) on the mound. Hopefully whatever issues he was undergoing in his playoff debut are over now and he's ready to go: He allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings on Sunday, allowing three home runs. He struck out seven and walked none in the game, throwing 86 pitches on short rest.

Those three home runs Greinke allowed a week ago were the most he's allowed as a Brewer, and the most he's allowed in any game since 2009. Amazingly, in the middle of his incredible Cy Young season Greinke allowed three home runs in an August start against the White Sox. It happens, I guess.

Greinke made three starts against the Cardinals this season and was pretty good in all of them:

Date IP H R ER BB K Result
June 11 7 7 3 3 0 9 Brewers win, 5-3
August 1 6 7 2 2 1 5 Brewers win, 6-2
September 7 7 8 2 2 0 4 Brewers lose, 2-0

Six Cardinals have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Nick Punto 24 .211 .348 .211 .558
Albert Pujols 21 .278 .381 .389 .770
Gerald Laird 20 .300 .300 .350 .650
Skip Schumaker 16 .333 .333 .400 .733
Matt Holliday 13 .417 .462 .917 1.378
Yadier Molina 12 .364 .333 .455 .788

Meanwhile the Cardinals will send Jaime Garcia (3.56 ERA, 3.23 FIP in 2011, 3.86 ERA, 4.88 FIP postseason), who has quietly put together a really good season. Garcia posted 3.6 fWAR in 2011, half a win better than his 2010 season and the best on the Cardinals by any pitcher not named Chris Carpenter. Like Greinke he made his career postseason debut last week: He allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings Tuesday, walking two and striking out one.

Like so many young pitchers this time of year, Garcia is in uncharted territory in terms of innings pitched. He threw easily a career high 163.1 in 2011, and has now thrown 201.2 between the regular season and playoffs in 2011. His velocity was down a few tenths of a mph on Tuesday, but not enough to raise a red flag. He only threw his fastball 36 times over 100 pitches, though, which is interesting.

Garcia made two starts against the Brewers this season and the results could not have been more different:

Date IP H R ER BB K Result
May 6 9 2 0 0 1 8 Cardinals win, 6-0
August 2 5 5 10 7 3 0 6 Brewers win, 8-7

He's faced eight Brewers ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Ryan Braun 22 .227 .227 .364 .591
Prince Fielder 22 .286 .273 .381 .654
Corey Hart 21 .400 .429 .400 .829
Casey McGehee 20 .294 .350 .529 .879
Rickie Weeks 20 .250 .400 .500 .900
Jonathan Lucroy 14 .143 .143 .143 .286
Carlos Gomez 12 .167 .167 .250 .417
Jerry Hairston Jr 11 .182 .182 .273 .455

Here's today's lineup:

Corey Hart RF
Jerry Hairston Jr 3B
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Carlos Gomez CF
Jonathan Lucroy C
Zack Greinke P

And in the bullpen:

John Axford pitched two innings (28 pitches) Friday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (26 pitches) Friday.
Takashi Saito pitched one inning (14 pitches) Friday.
Chris Narveson, Marco Estrada and Kameron Loe pitched on Wednesday.
LaTroy Hawkins hasn't pitched since Sunday.

The roof is expected to be open today on a beautiful day for baseball: Game time temps will be around 73 and will fall into the 60's as the day goes along.

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