Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Gallardo) at Reds (Latos)

Nyjer Morgan was so excited to play the Reds tonight that he ran straight into a guy wearing red yesterday.

The Brewers have gone 5-4 in their last nine games. If they go 5-4 in every nine game stretch through the end of the season they'll finish with 83 wins. That's probably not going to be enough to get it done.

They'll get a chance to pick up the pace tonight and gain some ground in the NL Central with Yovani Gallardo (4.22 ERA, 4.06 FIP) on the mound. Gallardo is having a pretty fascinating stretch lately: He's pitched a quality start in nine of his last ten outings, but he's met the bare minimum criteria for that classification several times over that stretch. Wednesday's start was a good example of that, as he allowed three runs on seven hits over 6.2 innings with two walks and seven strikeouts.

After allowing six home runs in his first eleven starts this season, Gallardo has allowed six more in four starts in June. If he allows a home run tonight it'll be the first time he's ever allowed one in five straight starts. He'd be the second Brewer to have a streak that long in 2012, joining Marco Estrada.

Gallardo beat the Reds at home on May 8, allowing two runs on four hits over six innings with two walks and eight strikeouts. Seven Reds have faced Gallardo ten or more times, and the numbers are pretty scary:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Brandon Phillips 33 .286 .355 .500 .855
Joey Votto 29 .348 .448 .652 1.100
Jay Bruce 22 .450 .500 .750 1.250
Scott Rolen 17 .438 .471 .750 1.221
Ryan Ludwick 16 .308 .438 .769 1.207
Ryan Hanigan 12 .273 .333 .364 .697
Willie Harris 10 .250 .400 .375 .775

He'll face Mat Latos (5.20 ERA, 4.96 FIP), who is not pitching well in his first season after being the Reds' biggest offseason acquisition. The 24-year-old righty has already allowed 16 home runs in 2012, matching the number he allowed in both 2010 and 2011. He's allowed five or more runs in three of his last five starts and gave up seven runs over four innings against the Indians on Monday.

As you may have known, Petco Park in San Diego is a pitchers' park and Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati is certainly not. That probably explains why Latos' home run rate has more than doubled from 0.74 last season to 1.81 per nine innings in 2012. He's also striking out less than eight batters per nine, though, after striking out 9.2 in 2010 and 8.6 in 2011. He throws a low-to-mid 90's fastball with a fair number of sliders, some curves and the occasional changeup.

Latos has faced the Brewers twice in his career, but this is the first time in 2012. No current Brewers have faced him ten times or more, but Aramis Ramirez is 4-for-8 against him with a pair of doubles, and Rickie Weeks is 4-for-6 with a pair of home runs. Yovani Gallardo also has a home run against him.

As of this writing I haven't seen tonight's Brewer lineup. If you have, please drop it in the comments.

Here's the bullpen situation:

Jose Veras pitched one inning (28 pitches) yesterday, and also pitched on Saturday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched .2 innings (13 pitches) yesterday.
Manny Parra pitched .1 innings (13 pitches) yesterday.
Tim Dillard pitched one inning (23 pitches) Saturday.
Kameron Loe pitched .2 innings (18 pitches) Saturday.
Livan Hernandez and Mike McClendon are the new co-Dillards.

It's going to be a beautiful night for baseball in Cincinnati, with temperatures in the upper 70's and no rain in the forecast.

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