The Brewers are looking for a five game winning streak.
Attempting to stop them will be JA Happ (4-12, 6.12), who was acquired as a center piece of the Roy Oswalt trade to the Phillies last season. I think the Astros were hoping that the 28 year old lefty would perform as he did in 2009 when he had a sub-3.00 ERA. Unfortunately, his 4.33 FIP that year betrayed his likely true talent level. This year, he's getting the worst results of his career despite his 7.50 K/9 and 4.89 BB/9 being similar to what they have been in his career. An elevated 1.31 HR/9 rate doesn't help as his xFIP of 4.63 is the same as it was in 2010 and only slightly higher than his career 4.54.
This season, Happ is giving up an opponent's OPS of .851. Despite being a left hander, he actually has slightly worse numbers facing lefties this season: Versus lefties, he has an opponent line of .296/.372/.494 whereas against righties his line is .275/.365/.482. On the road in 2011, Happ currently is giving up a .315/.399/.514 line and has an 8.02 ERA.
Happ mostly throws four different pitches: A 90 MPH four seamer which he throws around 55% of the time, an 84 MPH slider, an 82 MPH changeup, and a 76 MPH curveball. Only the changeup has been given a positive value this season by fangraphs, with each of the other pitches well into negative numbers. In his career, only Happ's fastball has a positive value.
Happ has faced three current Brewers ten times. Here is how they have fared:
For the Brewers, Yovani Gallardo (11-7, 3.89) will take the mound. Gallardo's 7.84 K/9 rate is still down significantly compared to previous years, though it is good to see his BB/9 (3.08) down significantly as well. Gallardo currently has a 3.75 ERA for July, including six earned runs in just four innings against Colorado on the 15th. His last outing, against the Giants, he allowed two runs in seven innings. Gallardo is over .100 OPS points better at home (.673) as opposed to on the road (.777). Yovani has faced four different Astros' hitters at least ten times. Here is how they have fared:
In the Bullpen:
John Axford pitched 1 inning (16 pitches) Thursday and had pitched in three straight games.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched 1 inning (20 pitches) Thursday and had pitched in three straight games.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched one inning (15 pitches) Thursday.
Marco Estrada hasn't pitched since Saturday.
Don't forget to prognostikeg!