Tonight, the Brewers have a chance to win three straight games on the road for just the second time this season.
To do it, they'll have to beat Josh Collmenter (2.92 ERA, 3.48 FIP), who has been pretty impressive in his major league debut season. Drafted in the 15th round in 2007, Collmenter is making his 19th major league appearance and 12th start tonight, and has allowed an even 1.000 WHIP over 77 innings this season. The stats would suggest he's due for some regression, though: Opposing batters are hitting just .236 on balls in play against him this season.
The sample size is small to this point, but Collmenter's major league numbers show a high 80's fastball and a changeup he relies upon heavily, using it over 26% of the time. He'll also throw an occasional slow curve. The changeup has been his best pitch this season, but the fastball is surprisingly good too. Considering he seems to be working almost exclusively with two pitches and doesn't break 90 with his fastball, his 2011 success is pretty surprising.
Collmenter's last start was 12 days ago against the Brewers, and it was a good one: He shut the Crew out for six innings on just three hits and a walk, striking out three. The Brewers eventually won the game 3-1. All three hits off Collmenter were singles: Prince Fielder, Nyjer Morgan and Yovani Gallardo each had one.
The Brewers, meanwhile, will send Randy Wolf (3.65 ERA 4.41 FIP), the final member of the rotation to make his second half debut. Wolf closed out the first half with a solid outing, allowing three runs (two earned) to the Reds on seven hits and four walks over seven innings. He struck out two batters in the game, his lowest total in a start since May 17.
I'm not sure what to make of this, but Wolf seems to be fading towards a "junkballer" type mix of pitches this season. He's throwing his high-80's fastball 50.7% of the time in 2011, the lowest percentage of his career, and he's replacing it with a lot of sliders and more curves and changeups than he's thrown in the past. That's interesting because his fastball has been a plus pitch according to FanGraphs in four of the last five seasons.
The Diamondbacks beat up on Wolf two starts ago, scoring seven runs on ten hits and four walks against him over six innings. Gerardo Parra and Justin Upton both took him deep in that game. Eight Diamondbacks position players have faced him ten times or more:
As of this writing I haven't seen tonight's lineup. If you have, please drop it in the comments.
In the bullpen:
John Axford pitched one inning (24 pitches) yesterday, and has appeared in three straight games.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (20 pitches) yesterday, and also pitched on Saturday.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched one inning (14 pitches) yesterday, and also pitched on Saturday.
Takashi Saito pitched one inning (15 pitches) yesterday.
Marco Estrada hasn't pitched since Thursday.
Tim Dillard has this really great Harry Caray impersonation he'd like to show you.