A win tonight puts the Brewers at 11.5 games up with 19 to play. That'd be pretty cool, right?
Tonight they'll face Kyle Lohse (3.72 ERA, 3.93 FIP), who is having a pretty solid season as a Cardinal. His ERA, FIP and xFIP are all either career lows or his lowest since his first season as a Cardinal in 2008, when he was excellent. This is also his first full season since that campaign. He pitched five innings against the Pirates nine days ago, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits over five innings. He's been dealing with a finger injury recently.
Lohse is on pace to strike out less than five batters per nine for the first time since 2005, but he's helping himself by not giving out many walks (a career low 2.06 BB/9) and keeping the ball in the park (0.89 HR/9, down from 1.12 for his career). It would appear he's also getting lucky: Opposing batters are hitting .263 on balls in play against him, down from .302 for his career. His velocity is also at an all time low: His fastball is averaging just 89.3 mph this season, and he mixes in a lot of changeups and sliders. Both the change and slider have been plus pitches this season.
This is Lohse's third appearance against the Brewers this season: He was excellent on May 7 (8 IP, 1 ER) but lost anyway, and also lost on June 10 (5 IP, 4 ER). Seven Brewers have faced him ten times or more:
|Jerry Hairston Jr||19||.133||.278||.200||.478|
He'll face Yovani Gallardo (3.68 ERA, 3.66 FIP), who needs to throw five innings tonight to set a new career high. He stands at 181 through 29 starts tonight, and threw 185.2 in 2009 and 185 in 2010. Last year, with the Brewers clearly out of contention, the team shut him down at about this point. It's nice to not have to think about things like that in 2011. Gallardo got knocked around by the Cardinals on Thursday, allowing eight runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings and allowing four home runs.
Gallardo's fastball has been his best pitch this season, but almost 40% of his offerings have been either curves (19.4%) or sliders (19.1%). Both pitches have been roughly league average this year, although the slider has been his best pitch over the course of his career. His changeup, a relatively common topic of conversation over the years, has been all but abandoned in 2011.
Gallardo has faced the Cardinals three times this season and his results have gone across the spectrum from awful to excellent:
Eight Cardinals have faced him ten times or more:
Pujols is the only batter in all of baseball with more than two career homers against Gallardo. He has four, and two of them came on Thursday.
Here's tonight's Brewer lineup:
And in the bullpen:
John Axford pitched one inning (12 pitches) last night.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (15 pitches) Sunday.
Takashi Saito pitched one inning (14 pitches) Sunday.
Tim Dillard pitched one inning last night for Nashville.
It's a beautiful night for baseball in St. Louis. Game time temperature will be around 70 and should drop into the low 60's as the game goes along with no signs of precipitation in sight.