"So, anyway, I bet Nyjer that if the first Pirates hitter reached third, I bet that he wouldn't score. And wouldn't you know, the guy actually took the bet!" "Oh Ax, you so silly."
The Brewers have already won the first two games of this series, can they finish the sweep?
Attempting to prevent that will be Charlie Morton (9-6, 3.56). Morton has had a bit of a breakout year in 2011 as he currently sports a 3.71 FIP and a 3.90 xFIP. Through June 4, he had a 2.52 ERA--since then, that number has bloated to a 5.08 ERA. Morton may have turned it back around, though: He has a 17 inning scoreless streak right now, including seven shutout innings against the Cubs and eight shutout innings against the Giants in his last two outings. He also struck out a season high seven opposing hitters against Chicago. Morton isn't known for his strikeouts and only has a 5.56 K/9 this year to go along with a 3.85 BB/9. What he has done very well is preventing the long ball, posting a meager 0.36 HR/9. He's also been very good at inducing ground balls, with a nearly 60% GB%.
Morton hasn't been significantly worse or better on the road versus at home: He's giving up an opponent OPS of .707 away from Pittsburgh and an OPS of .734 at PNC. He is utterly pitiful against left handed hitters, though, giving up a .384/.464/.545 line to southpaws. That's good for a 1.009 OPS. Morton is tough against right handed hitters, though, allowing a .197/.264/.233 line.
Morton doesn't have the most extensive repertoire: He throws a four seamer and a two seamer at around 90-91 MPH and a 79 MPH curveball. That's about it. The Only Brewer he's faced more than ten times is Ryan Braun who, in eleven plate appearances, has a .556/.636/1.000 line.
For the Brewers, Shaun Marcum (10-3, 3.62) gets the call. Marcum has been about as consistent as the Brewers could have asked for. He has only given up more than four earned runs once in his past 13 starts, though he does have a 4.44 ERA over that span. That one 4+ game caused a fairly large jump in his season ERA--he gave up six runs in six innings to the Cardinals on the second of this month, causing his ERA to raise by 0.22. Still, Marcum's 3.71 FIP and 3.69 xFIP are pretty much in line with his ERA currently. No Pirates' player has faced Marcum more than three times, let alone ten.
In the Bullpen, the Four Closers were in action last night:
Francisco Rodriguez pitched 0.1 innings (2 pitches) Friday and 1 inning (14 pitches) yesterday.
John Axford pitched 1 inning (21 pitches) yesterday.
Takashi Saito pitched 1 inning (10 pitches) yesterday.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched 1 inning (11 pitches) yesterday.
Kameron Loe pitched one inning (12 pitches) Thursday and 1 innings (14 pitches) Friday.
Tim Dillard pitched one inning (15 pitches) Thursday.
Frankie de la Cruz pitched one inning (12 pitches) Thursday.