CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 30: Starting pitcher Shaun Marcum #18 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on August 30, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
PROGRAMMING NOTE: If you're looking for something to do while waiting for tonight's game, I'll be appearing on The Watercooler with Jimmie Kaska on Sports Radio 1400 in Eau Claire at 5:15 and The Sports Den with Downtown Ollie Burrows on SportsFan100.5 in Wausau at 5:30. - KL
The Brewers enter play tonight with a Wild Card elimination number of 21.
Hopefully they can keep that number from going down tonight when they face Wade LeBlanc (2.49 ERA, 3.45 FIP), making just his sixth start of the 2012 season tonight in place of rookie Jacob Turner, who has been pushed back to Friday. LeBlanc pitched a scoreless inning in relief on August 31, and last started a game on August 22.
LeBlanc is having a good season for the Marlins, but most of his best work has come in relief. In 14 appearances out of the bullpen he's posted a 1.37 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. As a starter his ERA goes up to 3.29 and his WHIP is 1.43. He's a left-handed pitcher but has been much better against righties in his career, holding them to a .752 OPS. Lefties have an .886 mark against him.
LeBlanc faced the Brewers twice in relief in July, working 1.2 scoreless innings. No current Brewers have faced him ten times or more, but Ryan Braun is 3-for-4 with two walks against him for a .750/.833/1.000 line.
He'll face Shaun Marcum, who has some work to do to convince teams he's healthy enough to be worth signing as a free agent this winter. He's allowed seven runs since returning from the DL on August 25, but four of them were unearned. He left his start against the Cubs on Thursday early after allowing three runs on five hits over four innings.
Marcum set a career high by pitching 200.2 innings in 2011, but is on pace to throw just 127.1 this season if he makes all six remaining starts and pitches six innings. His 3.05 per nine inning walk rate is also his highest since 2006. His fastball velocity is down a hair this season (from 86.9 mph in 2011 to 86.8 in 2012), and he's now throwing his heater just 29% of the time. Roughly 60% of his pitches are out of the strike zone.
Tonight is Marcum's first ever appearance against the Marlins, but one current Marlin has seen him 12 times before: Carlos Lee is 3-for-9 against Marcum with three walks for a .333/.500/.667 line.
As of this writing tonight's lineup had not been posted. If you've seen it, please drop it in the comments.
And in the bullpen:
Manny Parra pitched one inning (20 pitches) yesterday and also pitched on Sunday.
Livan Hernandez pitched 2.2 innings (36 pitches) yesterday.
Brandon Kintzler pitched one inning (18 pitches) yesterday.
Kameron Loe pitched 1.1 innings (22 pitches) Sunday.
John Axford pitched one inning (15 pitches) Sunday.
Jose Veras pitched one inning (13 pitches) Sunday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (9 pitches) Sunday.
Tyler Thornburg started for Nashville and pitched 3.2 innings Sunday.
Josh Stinson started for Huntsville and pitched four innings Saturday.
Jim Henderson last pitched on Saturday.