Today's Matchup: Brewers (Estrada) at Nationals (Zimmermann)

May 7, 2012: Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Marco Estrada (41) during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Miller Park. The Reds defeated the Brewers 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Good morning! The Mug will be off today due to the early start on the East Coast

Any other game I'd be cheering for Jordan Zimmermann. A native of Auburndale, WI and an alum of UW-Stevens Point, Zimmerman is a story of local boy done good. Today though, he's got to go down.

He's 11-8 with a 2.96 ERA in 30 starts this season.

Despite getting the win in his last outing, he struggled with finding his groove and put a lot of guys on base. He pitched on seven days' rest due to an off day and a rainout and that change in his schedule seemed to have an effect on him. He'll be pitching on normal rest tomorrow, but the Brewers can only hope he's still off his game.

That start was part of a resurgence the Nationals have to be hoping show the middle of his season was more blip than sign of times to come. From August to mid-September, his ERA was over five and he had a hard time getting past the fifth inning. Rock bottom was a 3.2 innings, eight earned run outing against the Cardinals on September 1.

His last outing against the Dodgers was an upswing from there, but clearly one outing does not a comeback make. His strikeout numbers are up, but are slightly inflated by nine and 11 strikeout games against the Astros and Cubs. But his ratio of 39 walks to 141 strikeouts is pretty impressive.

His splits have to give the Brewers hope, as his ERA is higher both at home (3.70 vs 2.23) and during day games (4.34 vs 2.47). Add to that the defensive struggles the Nationals had with the sun yesterday, and Brewers fans have to be feeling pretty good about their chances.

As for Marco Estrada, he seems to have hit his stride as we entered September. After failing to put a win on the board until August 21, he's won four of his last six outings and posted a 1.23 ERA over that time. In the Brewers most recent stretch of success, the team is 12-1 when either Gallardo or Estrada is the starter.

He had a dominant seven-inning, 10 strikeout outing against Pittsburgh to start September and also went 6.2 against Atlanta and another seven in Pittsburgh his last time out. After a string of short starts, the ability to take it deeper into games has allowed the bullpen to rest and right it's ship.

Estrada also had seven days between his last two starts and it took him an inning or two to settle in, but for a guy not used to starting a full season, the extra rest likely did way more good than harm. He retired the final ten batters he faced.

One of the factors in Estrada's success is the almost a full run difference in both his BB/9 (2.8 down to 1.9) and K/9 (8.5 up to 9.2).

Brewers lineup:

Aoki RF
Weeks 2B
Braun LF
Ramirez 3B
Hart 1B
Lucroy C
Gomez CF
Segura SS
Estrada P

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