Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Greinke) v. Cubs (Zambrano)

The Brewers have won five of their last six at home to improve to 20 games over .500 (34-14) at Miller Park. It'd be nice if it was 21 by the end of the night tonight.

You might not have realized it until now, but the Brewers are 7-0 when Zack Greinke (4.84 ERA, 3.03 FIP) starts at home this season. He's 5-0 with a 4.09 ERA in those starts, compared to a 5.61 ERA on the road. He allowed two solo home runs and little else against the Diamondbacks on Thursday, but the Brewers were shut out and he picked up the loss. All told, he has a 2.88 ERA in July with 34 strikeouts and just six walks in 25 innings.

This might just be small sample size theater, but here's something I found interesting. Greinke has made nine starts this season on normal rest, and they've been somewhat better than the others:

Rest Games IP/G ERA
Four days 9 6.1 4.24
Five days 3 6 4.50
Six or more days 3 4 8.25

He's starting on five days' rest tonight.

Greinke has only faced the Cubs once in his career, and it came this season: On June 16 they torched him for eight runs (six earned) on eight hits over 5.1 innings. He walked two and struck out ten in that game. Three Cubs have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Carlos Pena 33 .133 .188 .267 .454
Marlon Byrd 17 .125 .176 .313 .489
Alfonso Soriano 15 .308 .400 .385 .785

He'll face Carlos Zambrano (4.70 ERA, 4.03 FIP), assuming the Cubs don't find someone willing to take on his contract between now and 7:10 pm. His value has taken a pretty significant nosedive since the Cubs signed him to a five year, $91.5 million deal before the 2008 season, and he's still owed something in the neighborhood of $24 million between now and the end of 2012. He's only made two starts since going on the DL with a back injury at the end of June. Last time out he held the Astros to two runs on nine hits over six innings, walking one and striking out just three.

Zambrano has lost a few mph on his fastball over the years: His speed averaged somewhere in the 92 range from 2002-06, but is down to 90 this season. It's still a plus pitch, though, as are his slider and cutter. His splitter, which was once a pretty good pitch for him, is worth -3.52 runs per 100 this season according to FanGraphs.

Zambrano has faced the Brewers twice this season and had some relatively mediocre results: He's pitched exactly six innings in each game and allowed a combined nine runs on 16 hits, walking five and striking out eleven. Eight Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Prince Fielder 62 .341 .532 .659 1.191
Rickie Weeks 53 .224 .283 .367 .650
Ryan Braun 44 .275 .341 .425 .766
Craig Counsell 41 .242 .366 .303 .669
Corey Hart 38 .303 .395 .424 .819
Nyjer Morgan 27 .360 .385 .360 .745
Casey McGehee 22 .263 .364 .474 .837
Mark Kotsay 10 .111 .200 .111 .311

Via Tyler Barnes, here's tonight's lineup:

Corey Hart RF
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Zack Greinke P

And in the bullpen:

John Axford pitched one inning (19 pitches) last night.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched one inning (16 pitches) last night.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (11 pitches) last night.
Kameron Loe pitched one inning (6 pitches) last night.
Takashi Saito hasn't pitched since Sunday.
Marco Estrada last pitched on Saturday.
Tim Dillard could've been replaced by a cardboard cutout and we'd never know.

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