Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Gallardo) vs Dodgers (Billingsley)

Apr 11, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo (49) pitches against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

EDITOR'S NOTE: If you're looking for something to do while waiting for tonight's game, I'll be making my weekly appearance on The Watercooler with Jimmie Kaska on AM 1400 WBIZ in Eau Claire at 5:15. Follow the link to listen live or look for archived audio from the spot in the Mug tomorrow. - KL

The Brewers are riding a four game losing streak and coming home to host the NL's hottest team. Tonight we have the potential to see a massive momentum swing for this team...or not.

Getting a solid outing tonight from Yovani Gallardo (5.91/8.04 ERA/FIP in 2012, 3.52/3.59 in 2011) would do a lot to help reverse the slide. Gallardo's previous two starts have been polar opposites: He allowed six runs on seven hits over 3.2 innings on Opening Day, then just one run on five hits over seven innings against the Cubs on Wednesday. He threw 107 pitches his last time out.

One thing to watch today will be Gallardo's velocity. FanGraphs says he averaged around 93 mph on his fastball throughout 2010 and 2011, but his average velocity on his four seamer was just 91.4 mph on both Wednesday and Opening Day. He's also using his slider much more this season, throwing it roughly every fourth pitch.

This is the fifth time Gallardo has faced the Dodgers in his career. His lone start against them in 2011 was a great one, as he allowed just one run on four hits over eight innings, walking one and striking out nine. Three Dodgers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Jerry Hairston Jr. 13 .154 .154 .231 .385
Andre Ethier 12 .167 .167 .167 .333
Matt Kemp 12 .333 .333 .417 .750

He'll face Chad Billingsley (0.63/1.91 ERA/FIP in 2012, 4.21/3.83 in 2011), who is off to a very hot start this season. The 27-year-old's 0.63 ERA is the best in the National League, and he's struck out 15 and walked just one over 14.1 innings. He pitched six innings against the Pirates on Wednesday and allowed a run on five hits, striking out four and not walking a batter while throwing just 77 pitches. The only run he's allowed this season scored on a solo home run.

Anytime you post an ERA under 1 there's probably some luck involved, and that's certainly true here. Billingsley has held opponents to a .212 batting average on balls in play this season, down from .301 for his career. He throws a low-90's fastball along with a pretty even mix of sliders, curves, changeups and cutters. All five pitches are around average or slightly above.

Billingsley has faced the Brewers seven times in his career (five starts), including once in 2011. He held them to a run on four hits over seven innings last season, walking two and striking out five. Four Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Aramis Ramirez 23 .273 .304 .455 .759
Travis Ishikawa 21 .389 .476 .556 1.032
Ryan Braun 12 .333 .333 .333 .667
Rickie Weeks 12 .333 .500 .333 .833

Tonight's Brewer lineup is without Alex Gonzalez for the third straight day:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart RF
Mat Gamel 1B
Jonathan Lucroy C
Cesar Izturis SS
Yovani Gallardo P

And in the bullpen:

Manny Parra pitched two innings (31 pitches) Sunday.
Marco Estrada pitched one inning (30 pitches) Sunday.
John Axford pitched .1 innings (26 pitches) Sunday.
Tim Dillard pitched .2 innings (10 pitches) Sunday.
Jose Veras last pitched on Saturday.
Kameron Loe and Francisco Rodriguez last pitched on Friday.

The weather should not be a factor tonight, as the roof is expected to be closed.

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