This picture, taken sometime on Wednesday, is roughly the opposite of how I expect Miller Park to look tonight.
The Brewers haven't lost back-to-back home games all season. Tonight, that streak is on the line.
Randy Wolf (3.15 ERA, 4.04 FIP) was one of just two Brewers to win a game in the last week, and has been excellent lately. Since May 17 Wolf has posted a 2.18 ERA over seven starts, averaging better than six innings per appearance and striking out 32 while walking 14. He beat the Red Sox on Saturday, scattering nine hits and allowing just two runs over seven innings, walking one and striking out three.
Control has been a major key for Wolf this season, and he could be in for a big year if he can keep it up. He's walking just 2.7 batters per nine in 2011 (down from 3.3 for his career and 3.6 last season), and has given out just five free passes in 25.2 innings in June (1.8 per nine). He also set a season high by getting 15 ground balls on Saturday, which made up for the fact that he only had two swinging strikes.
Wolf has played for five different teams in his career, but all of them have been in the NL. As such, he's only faced the Twins one time in his 13 seasons: in 2002 as a Phillie. The only current Twin who's faced him ten times is Carl Pavano, who likely won't face him tonight.
Wolf will face off against Scott Baker (3.24 ERA, 3.66 FIP), who is quietly having a very good season. Baker is 29 and on pace to set a career lows in ERA (3.24) and WHIP (1.167) and a career high in strikeouts/9 (8.6). Baker doesn't walk many (2.4/9) and has a tendency to pitch relatively deep into games, averaging roughly 6.2 innings per outing in 2011. He's pitched 17 of the Twins' 18 innings over his last two starts, and shut out the Padres for eight innings in Saturday in a 1-0 win. He struck out ten and walked just one in that game.
On paper Baker's stuff doesn't look much different from previous years: He has a low 90's fastball and will mix in curves, sliders and the occasional changeup. His fastball has been his best pitch this season: FanGraphs estimates its value at +1.29 runs per 100.
The Brewers beat Baker on June 22 of last season, scoring five runs against him on nine hits over six innings. Seven Brewers have faced him ten times or more:
Via Tyler Barnes, here's tonight's lineup:
And in the bullpen:
Marco Estrada pitched 3 innings (50 pitches) Wednesday.
Tim Dillard pitched 2 innings (42 pitches) Wednesday.
Sergio Mitre pitched 1 inning (19 pitches) Wednesday.
Kameron Loe and John Axford last pitched on Tuesday.
Mark DiFelice and LaTroy Hawkins last pitched on Monday.
If you haven't yet, don't forget to make your predictions for tonight's game in Prognostikeggers!