Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Wolf) vs Blue Jays (Alvarez)

MILWAUKEE, WI - JUNE 07: Randy Wolf #43 of the Milwaukee Brewers talks with George Kottaras #9 during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park on June 7, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

The Brewers are back home from a weird road trip and ready to open a brief interleague homestand tonight.

When the clock hits 7:10 tonight Randy Wolf (5.06 ERA, 4.29 FIP) will be on the mound for the Brewers. It's hard to tell what to expect from Wolf, but his recent work has been somewhat encouraging as he's posted a 0.66 ERA over his last two starts and a 4.22 over his last nine outings. He was very good against the Royals on Wednesday, allowing a run on six hits over seven innings and throwing just 95 pitches.

If you believe that FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a statistic that evaluates pitchers based on only walks, strikeouts and home runs) is a better measuring tool that ERA, then you might be interested in knowing that Wolf's 2012 FIP is 4.29, which is exactly what it was in 2011. He overachieved to the tune of a 3.69 ERA in 2011, though, instead of the 5.06 he's carrying this year.

Wolf has only faced the Blue Jays twice in his career, and his last game against them came in 2000. Four current Jays, however, have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Omar Vizquel 15 .357 .400 .429 .829
Kelly Johnson 13 .250 .308 .333 .641
Edwin Encarnacion 12 .091 .167 .091 .258
Colby Rasmus 11 .500 .636 1.125 1.761

He'll face 22-year-old Venezuelan right-hander Henderson Alvarez (3.87 ERA, 5.59 FIP), making his 14th start. Keeping the ball on the ground is the key for Alvarez, who has allowed 16 home runs in 13 outings this season and eight in his last four appearances. Three of those came against the Nationals on Tuesday, when he allowed four runs on nine hits over seven innings.

Alvarez's 2012 line would suggest he's not much of a strikeout threat: He's punched out just 2.7 batters per nine innings this season, easily the lowest rate among pitchers with more than 40 innings of work in 2012:

Pitcher Team IP K/9
Henderson Alvarez Blue Jays 86 2.72
Derek Lowe Indians 78.2 3.20
Kevin Correia Pirates 69 3.26
Jason Marquis Twins/Padres 46.1 4.27
Jeanmar Gomez Indians 67.1 4.28

Alvarez has never faced the Brewers, and no current member of the team has faced him in the majors. I think it's possible there's not a single Brewer who even faced him in the minors.

Here's tonight's lineup:

Norichika Aoki RF
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
George Kottaras C
Edwin Maysonet SS
Randy Wolf P

And in the bullpen:

Jose Veras pitched one inning (26 pitches) yesterday and also pitched on Saturday.
Tim Dillard pitched 2.2 innings (42 pitches) yesterday.
Kameron Loe pitched two innings (24 pitches) yesterday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (17 pitches) yesterday.
Juan Perez faced one batter (3 pitches) yesterday.
Manny Parra pitched one inning (22 pitches) Saturday.
John Axford last pitched on Friday.

As of this writing the Miller Park Roof Hotline had not been updated for tonight's game. The weather is clear and hot, but will cool off as the evening goes along and there are thunderstorms in the forecast. The roof was open as of 4:20, but will probably close at some point.

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