Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Gallardo) @ Pirates (Burnett)

Jonathan Lucroy hasn't caught Yovani Gallardo often this season, but he's behind the plate tonight.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: If you're looking for something to do while waiting for today's game, you can hear me on:

The Brewers have 16 games left to decide the 2012 season, and they play the first of ten on the road tonight.

When the Brewers and Pirates take the field at 6:05 A.J. Burnett (3.66 ERA, 3.63 FIP) will be on the mound looking to continue his career resurrection. After posting a 4.79 ERA over three seasons with the Yankees and being given away for next to nothing, Burnett has bounced back with a 3.66 ERA over 27 starts this season. He was a tough-luck loser against the Reds on Wednesday, though, allowing two runs on five hits over six innings. The Reds have lost his last five starts.

A lot of Burnett's early success this season can be attributed to improved control. He walked just 40 batters over 132.2 innings in his first 20 starts, or roughly 2.7 per nine innings. Over his last seven starts, though, he's walking around 3.5 batters per nine and carrying a 5.14 ERA. He has, however, allowed just one home run in his last 29.2 innings.

This is the third time Burnett has faced the Brewers this season. He allowed four runs over seven innings on July 15 and two runs over 6.2 innings on September 1. He's walked four and struck out 17 Brewers this season. Six current Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Aramis Ramirez 22 .227 .227 .227 .455
Rickie Weeks 17 .250 .294 .313 .607
Corey Hart 16 .231 .375 .308 .683
Carlos Gomez 14 .182 .357 .273 .630
Ryan Braun 13 .417 .462 .417 .878
Nyjer Morgan 10 .250 .333 .250 .583

He'll face Yovani Gallardo (3.72 ERA, 3.91 FIP), who just continues to quietly have a very good season. He'll make his NL-leading 31st start tonight and the Brewers have won each of the last nine games where he's taken the mound. He pitched seven innings against the Braves on Wednesday and allowed two runs on four hits, walking three and striking out six.

The Brewers moved Gallardo ahead a spot in the rotation to make today's start, bumping Marco Estrada back to tomorrow. Pitching him today lines him up to make one extra start before the end of the season, although it's pretty unlikely the current rotation will remain intact that long. If he had waited until tomorrow to start, he would've been working on six days' rest for the first time since the All Star break and only the second time in 2012.

This is the third time Gallardo has faced the Pirates this season. He held them to a run on four hits over seven innings on August 17, but got knocked around and allowed seven runs on eleven hits over 4.2 innings on September 2. Five current Pirates have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Garrett Jones 23 .333 .565 .333 .899
Andrew McCutchen 22 .333 .364 .571 .935
Gaby Sanchez 16 .375 .375 .625 1.000
Clint Barmes 14 .000 .071 .000 .071
Pedro Alvarez 12 .000 .167 .000 .167

Barmes and Alvarez are two of just six players that have faced Gallardo at least ten times without ever getting a hit. Denard Span holds the record: He's faced Gallardo 15 times and is 0-for-14 with a sac bunt.

Here's tonight's lineup:

Norichika Aoki RF
Rickie Weeks 2B
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Jonathan Lucroy C
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Carlos Gomez CF
Jean Segura SS
Yovani Gallardo P

Yovani Gallardo has a 5.00 ERA in eleven starts pitching to Lucroy this season, and a 3.17 mark when pitching to Maldonado. This is the second consecutive start for Gallardo with Lucroy behind the plate, but before that Maldonado had caught each of his last 18 starts.

Meanwhile, the bullpen is pretty rested:

John Axford pitched one inning (19 pitches) on Sunday and also pitched on Saturday.
Francisco Rodriguez, Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler and Jose Veras last pitched on Saturday.
Manny Parra, Tyler Thornburg, Josh Stinson and Livan Hernandez last pitched on Friday.
The "Just Here For The Food" Award goes to Kameron Loe, who last pitched on Wednesday.

It's going to be cool tonight in Pittsburgh, but the rain should be gone by game time. The Weather Channel is calling for a game time temperature around 60 degrees under mostly cloudy skies once the precipitation stops falling.

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