It's said that starting pitchers have to have three good pitches. It's also said that Bud Norris only has one - a slider. Of course, he also throws a low-to-mid 90s fastball and a changeup, but they're apparently not very good. The changeup doesn't look enough like his fastball to fool anyone and the fastball doesn't tail in enough.
Obviously, this means that Norris relies on the slider - a lot. In June, the Astros SBNation site The Crawfish Boxes looked at his extreme usage (35.7% of the time) and how that overuse makes him more susceptible to injury.
He spent time on the 15-day DL in June with a sprained knee.
Norris has started 17 games this season and as a 5-8 record with a 5.33 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. He's got 101 strikeouts to go with 43 walks.
He has some interesting splits - clearly Minute Maid provides some friendly confines for him - his home ERA is 2.12, but it's 7.46 on the road. His ERA is a full run higher during night games than day games, as well (5.23 vs 4.26).
Norris ended a seven-game loss streak Wednesday against the Reds when he received a no decision (and no run-support) while pitching seven innings, giving up five hits and one run. The start prior to that, he was tagged for nine runs in 4.1 innings against Arizona. He hasn't gotten a win since May 29 against the Cubs.
Marco Estrada had a rough outing last week in Philadelphia, giving up five runs in four innings for the Brewers shortest start since the All-Star Break. He's still looking for his first win of the season while sitting 0-4 with a 4.52 ERA. He does have 20 strikeouts vs just four walks in his last three starts, including a career-high 11 on July 14 against the Pirates.
Edit by JP @ 6:05 PM (Added lineup and bullpen notes on Parra and McClendon)
Here's the lineup for today. Ryan Braun is dealing with blisters on his fingers and is getting a day off. That leaves the Brewers bench thin for tonight (only Ishikawa, Ransom, and Maldonado available).
In the bullpen:
Kameron Loe pitched one inning on Saturday and 0.2 innings (8 pitches) on Sunday
Jim Henderson pitched one inning Saturday and one inning (2 pitches) yesterday.
John Axford pitched two innings Wednesday and 1.2 innings (33 pitches) yesterday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched 0.2 innings Wednesday and 0.1 innings (15 pitches) yesterday.
Manny Parra last pitched on Tuesday and is unavailable with shoulder soreness.
Mike McClendon pitched one inning (19 pitches) on Thursday for Nashville.