Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Gallardo) v Pirates (Rodriguez)

Justin K. Aller

Rejoice! Tonight the Brewers return to playing weeknight baseball games that start before bedtime.

Despite a 1-5 homestand to start the season, the Brewers are 7-5 at Miller Park this season.

They'll return home tonight to face the first place Pirates with Yovani Gallardo (4.97/3.75 ERA/FIP) on the mound for the sixth time. Gallardo is working on an extra day's rest since beating the Padres on Tuesday, when he allowed three runs on eight hits over 6.2 innings. That outing would've looked better if not for three consecutive walks to end it.

Let's talk for a moment about Gallardo's hitting, shall we? His double against the Padres on Tuesday gave him 55 hits since the start of the 2009 season, which leads all major league pitchers by a relatively significant margin:

Pitcher Team(s) Hits
Yovani Gallardo Brewers 55
Mike Leake Reds 49
Carlos Zambrano Cubs, Marlins 47
Cole Hamels Phillies 46
Randy Wolf Dodgers, Brewers, Orioles 46

Over that same time period he also leads all pitchers in runs scored (27), doubles (14), home runs (9) and RBI (33). If he comes up with runners on and less than two outs, though, he'll almost certainly be asked to bunt.

Gallardo faced the Pirates three times a year ago and had two solid starts and a disaster. Seven of the eight earned runs he allowed to Pittsburgh came in a single start on September 2. He struck out 24 Pirates over 18.1 innings in 2012 while walking eight. Seven Pirates have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Garrett Jones 26 .278 .500 .278 .778
Andrew McCutchen 25 .292 .320 .500 .820
Gaby Sanchez 17 .375 .412 .625 1.037
Clint Barmes 16 .067 .125 .067 .192
Pedro Alvarez 15 .000 .200 .000 .200
Jose Tabata 12 .400 .500 .500 1.000
Neil Walker 12 .364 .417 .364 .780

He'll face longtime NL Central lefty Wandy Rodriguez (1.66/3.41 ERA/FIP), who is making his fifth start in his first full season as a Pirate. Rodriguez has been limited a bit this spring by a sore hamstring and missed a start at one point, but pitched 5.2 innings against the Phillies on Wednesday and allowed three runs on nine hits. The home runs he allowed in that game were the first he's given up all season.

The Pirates are 4-0 with Rodriguez on the mound this season, but that could be partially because opposing batters have hit just .200 on balls in play against him. His line drive rate is also way down, from 20.5% last season to 11.7% in 2013. He'll throw a 90 mph fastball with a lot of curves. In the past he's also mixed in a changeup but FanGraphs says he's thrown it just 1.8% of the time in 2013.

Rodriguez has faced the Brewers 24 times in his career, including 23 starts. In the Miller Park era, there are only four pitchers the Brewers have faced more:

Pitcher GS
Carlos Zambrano 32
Roy Oswalt 28
Bronson Arroyo 26
Ryan Dempster 25
Wandy Rodriguez and Aaron Harang 23 each

Three of those 23 starts came a year ago. He pitched a combined 16 innings over those appearances, allowing nine runs (seven earned for a 3.94 ERA) on 15 hits with eight walks and eleven strikeouts. Seven active Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Rickie Weeks 49 .300 .429 .450 .879
Ryan Braun 45 .359 .444 .795 1.239
Carlos Gomez 28 .143 .143 .179 .321
Alex Gonzalez 23 .087 .087 .087 .174
Yuniesky Betancourt 17 .176 .176 .176 .353
Jonathan Lucroy 14 .231 .214 .538 .753
Norichika Aoki 10 .300 .300 .400 .700

Lineups:

And in the bullpen:

The forecast for tonight's game calls for temperatures in the low 60's, which is good, but scattered thunderstorms, which is bad. At this point I'm calling the roof a toss-up.

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