Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Wolf) at Padres (Wieland)

Here's Joe Wieland, who the Brewers will see for the first time tonight.

So far in 2012 the Brewers have been pretty good in night games (7-4) and pretty bad in day games (3-8). Tonight we'll see how they do in a late night game.

When the Brewers finally come to the plate to open tonight's game they'll do it against 22-year-old rookie right-hander Joe Wieland (4.76/5.06 ERA/FIP), the youngest pitcher they've faced in 2012. In fact, he'll become just the seventh pitcher to face the Brewers before his 23rd birthday since Opening Day 2011. Here are the other six:

Pitcher Team First Meeting Age
Jordan Lyles Astros July 29, 2011 20 years, 283 days
Nathan Eovaldi Dodgers August 17, 2011 21 years, 185 days
Madison Bumgarner Giants July 24, 2011 21 years, 357 days
Eduardo Sanchez Cardinals May 8, 2011 22 years, 81 days
Maikel Cleto Cardinals September 5, 2011 22 years, 127 days
Craig Kimbrel Braves April 4, 2011 22 years, 311 days

Wieland last pitched on Wednesday, when he allowed two runs on five hits over six innings against the Nationals. He walked three, struck out four and threw 98 pitches in the game.

Wieland came over from the Rangers last July in the Mike Adams trade, and has made just three major league starts. Before the season John Sickels rated him as a B+ prospect and said this about his stuff:

Wieland has an 88-93 MPH fastball, occasionally a touch higher. He deploys a complete arsenal with a curveball, slider and changeup. His sense of location is extremely sharp, which helps all of his pitches play up, and his statistical profile has few flaws. ... Wieland doesn't have the pure stuff of a staff ace, but he should be a strike-throwing workhorse, and San Diego is a great place for him.

The Brewers haven't faced Wieland before, and since he spent most of last year in AA it's unlikely anyone from the current roster has faced him in the minors either.

He'll face Randy Wolf (7.17/5.71 ERA/FIP), who has a chance to finish April with an ERA over 7 for the first time in his career and will almost certainly be over 5 for the first time since 2007. Wolf posted a 2.39 ERA in six April starts one year ago. He had his best outing of the young season against the Astros on Tuesday, allowing two runs on four hits over six innings. He walked four, struck out four and threw 111 pitches in the game.

Through four starts this season, Pitchf/x suggests that Wolf is simply having a problem throwing strikes. Just 48% of his pitches in 2012 have been in the strike zone, compared to over 53% last season. His walk rate is currently sitting at 3.8 per nine innings and is his highest since 2006. Meanwhile, his strikeout rate is down from 2011, which at the time was the lowest rate of his career.

Wolf has faced the Padres 15 times in his career but only saw them once last season. It was a disaster start, as Wolf allowed five runs on 12 hits while recording just ten outs (3.1 innings), walking two and striking out one. Three current Padres have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Mark Kotsay 22 .421 .500 .632 1.132
Chase Headley 15 .143 .200 .214 .414
Orlando Hudson 12 .455 .500 .455 .955

Here's tonight's lineup:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart RF
Mat Gamel 1B
Alex Gonzalez SS
George Kottaras C
Randy Wolf P

And in the bullpen:

Jose Veras pitched .2 innings (15 pitches) yesterday, and also pitched on Saturday.
Kameron Loe pitched .1 innings (6 pitches) yesterday, and also pitched on Saturday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (17 pitches) yesterday.
John Axford pitched one inning (17 pitches) yesterday.
Tim Dillard and Manny Parra last pitched on Friday.
Vinnie Chulk hasn't pitched in the majors since May 5, 2009.

In today's least surprising news, the weather almost certainly will not be a factor while the Brewers are in San Diego this week. The game time temperature tonight will be in the low 60's and is only expected to drop into the upper 50's overnight.

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