Today's Matchup: Brewers (Estrada) at Cardinals (Lohse)

Estrada can't really do much worse than yesterday.

Yesterday? What game yesterday?

Marco Estrada (0-0, 2.45 ERA, 3.17 FIP) is making his second start for the Brewers after taking over for Chris Narveson. With Narveson out for the rest of 2012, Estrada hopes to continue his strong success in the starting role to hold off top prospect Wily Peralta. He has done a good job so far. Against the Rockies in his first start, Estrada allowed just one run on two hits in five innings pitched with nine strikeouts. Unless he is very efficient, I wouldn't expect his line to be quite as good today. Estrada might be looked on to work as many innings as he can with an overworked bullpen that went right back to work for six innings yesterday after a day off.

Estrada's splits have always been better as a starting pitcher, though he's only worked 10 games as a starter. Coming out of the bullpen he has a career 5.18 ERA. Starting games, his ERA drops all the way to 4.35. In addition, his K/BB ratio, opponent OPS, and WHIP also all drastically improve as a starter. It helps that teams may not be able to scout him as a starter very well, and it is only ten games. But some guys are just better suited to start rather than relieve.

Going off his one start for more accurate readings as a starter, Estrada relies mostly on his fastball. He threw it nearly 3/4 of the time against Colorado at 91 MPH. He also threw a 79 MPH curveball and a 77 MPH changeup.

Estrada has not faced a Cardinals hitter ten or more times.

Opposing Estrada will be Kyle Lohse (3-0, 0.99, 2.16 FIP). Lohse annoys me because he's not a good pitcher. Or, at least, he never was. He had one pretty good year in 2008 when he had a 3.78 ERA and 3.89 FIP. Outside of that, it was all mid to high 4.00 and 5.00 ERAs with a 6.55 ERA in 2010 thrown in for good measure. Then, all of a sudden, Lohse has the best season of his career in 2011, breaking out a 3.39 ERA and 3.67 FIP. As if that wasn't out-of-nowhere enough, he's off to an absolutely fantastic season this year. I mean, I'm pretty certain there is some black magic at play here. I don't know what Dave Duncan does. I wish I did. But somehow he does this to the Lohse's of the world. He takes these mediocre pitchers and turns them into more than serviceable guys in the rotation. I hate it. I'm half expecting the Cardinals to resign Jeff Suppan and for him to put up a 3.60 ERA next season.

Anyway, is one of those guys who doesn't strike out many and doesn't walk many. He's cut back on the home run problems that plagued him earlier in his career. He doesn't throw exceptionally hard, with an 89 MPH fastball. Lohse has an excellent changeup, which has been valued highly by Fangraphs pitch values. He'll also throw a pretty good slider and a not as good curveball.

Lohse has faced six different Brewers at least ten times. Here is how they have fared:

Player PA Line
Ryan Braun 33 .323/.364/.613
Rickie Weeks 31 .241/.290/.276
Aramis Ramirez 19 .412/.474/.765
Corey Hart 17 .118/.118/.176
Nyjer Morgan 14 .364/.385/.455
Jonathan Lucroy 10 .375/.500/.500

Lineup:

I haven't seen a lineup. Perhaps you have? Feel free to post it in the comments if so.

In the bullpen:

Mike McClendon pitched three innings (51 pitches) yesterday
Tim Dillard pitched one inning (11 pitches) yesterday.
Manny Parra pitched two innings (30 pitches) yesterday.
Jose Veras pitched one inning (27 pitches) Wednesday.
Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford, and Kameron Loe all pitched on Tuesday.

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