Today's Matchup: Brewers (Thornburg) vs Cardinals (Wainwright)

MILWAUKEE, WI - JULY 17: Rickie Weeks #23 of the Milwaukee Brewers celebrates the 3-2 win over the St Louis Cardinals during the game at Miller Park on July 17, 2012 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)

On May 13 the Brewers lost to fall to 15-19 and they haven't been within three games of .500 since. They've been four games under on seven occasions, but lost the next game time. Could today be the day they break through?

If it's going to happen today the Brewers will need a strong start from Tyler Thornburg (7.36 ERA, 11.79 FIP) in just his third major league appearance and second start. Thornburg is starting in place of Zack Greinke, who is skipping a turn in the rotation. Thornburg pitched two innings in relief on Saturday and allowed a run on two hits, walking two and striking out three.

It's probably safe to assume a short outing for Thornburg today, as he's only gotten three days of rest since his multi-inning relief outing on Saturday. However, Thornburg may also need to be more careful when choosing which hitters to challenge with his fastball: He's already allowed five home runs in 7.1 major league innings.

Thornburg, as you likely know, is facing the Cardinals for the first time.

He'll face a foe the Brewers are quite familiar with: Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (4.62 ERA, 3.41 FIP). On paper, however, Wainwright doesn't look like the same pitcher he was before missing the entire 2011 season due to injury. He pitched 6.1 innings in a loss against the Reds on Friday, allowing four runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

FanGraphs says that Wainwright's fastball velocity has dropped from over 91 in 2010 to an average of exactly 90 in 2012, which may be a sign that he hasn't regained full strength following his lost season. He still has a very good curve, though, and will mix in some sliders and changeups.

The Brewers beat Wainwright on April 7, scoring three runs against him on four hits over 5.2 innings. Corey Hart homered off him in that game. Five Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Aramis Ramirez 49 .378 .429 .644 1.073
Ryan Braun 47 .209 .277 .395 .672
Corey Hart 43 .256 .256 .512 .767
Rickie Weeks 34 .200 .294 .300 .594
Nyjer Morgan 15 .500 .500 .571 1.071

The Brewers are giving Ryan Braun a day off to tend to his sore thigh, so the lineup is shifted around a bit:

Norichika Aoki RF
Nyjer Morgan LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Martin Maldonado C
Carlos Gomez CF
Jeff Bianchi SS
Tyler Thornburg P

And in the bullpen:

Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (19 pitches) last night and has appeared in three straight games.
Manny Parra pitched one inning (15 pitches) last night.
Jose Veras pitched .1 innings (10 pitches) last night.
John Axford pitched .2 innings (36 pitches) Monday.
Kameron Loe pitched .1 innings (3 pitches) Monday.
Livan Hernandez hasn't pitched since before the All Star break.

It's finally cooled down a bit in Milwaukee today, and it should be a nice day for baseball at Miller Park. Expect a game time temperature around 80 with the roof open, barring a stray rain shower.

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