Today's Matchup: Milwaukee (Marcum) at Pittsburgh (Karstens)

Aug 22, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez (27) during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.79) is having another nice season for the Pirates. After posting a 3.38 ERA and 4.29 FIP in 2011, Karstens stands at a 3.34 FIP to go along with his 3.79 ERA. His peripherals in 2012 are the best they have ever been. His 6.39 K/9 is over one strikeout more per nine innings than his previous career high. In addition, Karstens' 1.78 BB/9 and 0.71 HR/9 are the lowest numbers of his career. Prior to these last two seasons, Karstens had a 5.07 career ERA over 89 games.

Karstens' last outing, against the Cardinals, he threw seven innings of two-hit ball and gave up two earned runs. He has a 3.60 ERA in August. Karstens has been great at home, with a .596 opponents OPS. He has also been wonderful against left-handed hitters (.604 OPS) while righties hold a .681 OPS against Karstens.

Karstens throws five pitches: An 89 MPH sinker (38%), a 71 MPH curveball (20%), an 89 MPH four-seamer (16%), an 89 MPH slider (13%), and an 81 MPH changeup (12%). Karstens has faced four Brewers hitters at least ten times. Here is how they have fared:

Player PA Slash Line
Ryan Braun 25 .273/.360/.682
Rickie Weeks 23 .190/.190/.619
Corey Hart 21 .105/.150/.158
Aramis Ramirez 13 .385/.385/.846

For the Brewers, Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.39) is making his long awaited return. He has been on the disabled list since June 23 with an elbow injury but, after three minor league rehab appearances, he is poised to return to the rotation. Marcum had been pitching very well prior to his injury with a 3.86 FIP in 13 starts. He had an 8.42 K/9 and a 2.84 BB/9. Marcum was really heating up before getting injured, with a 2.30 ERA in his previous four starts. His last start, against the Royals, he pitched 7.2 four-hit innings. Marcum is a free agent after this season and the next month will be very important to his next contract. If he can prove he is healthy and effective, he could be in for a very nice payday.

Marcum has faced four Pirates hitters at least ten times. Here is how they have fared:

Player PA Line
Neil Walker 15 .071/.067/.071
Garrett Jones 13 .500/.692/1.000
Andrew McCutchen 13 .182/.231/.273
Pedro Alvarez 12 .250/.250/.333

I have not yet seen the lineup for today's game. If you have, feel free to throw it in the comments.

In the bullpen:

Jim Henderson pitched 0.1 innings (3 pitches) last night.
John Axford pitched 0.2 innings (35 pitches) last night..
Kameron Loe pitched 0.1 innings (5 pitches) last night.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (10 pitches) last night.
Manny Parra last pitched on Tuesday.
Livan Hernandez, Jose Veras and Mike McClendon last pitched on Monday.

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