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

USA TODAY Sports

Brewers open a four-game series in Pittsburgh looking to snap a four-game losing streak and get their second win in May.

It's been a rough month for the Brewers, as they have lost nine of then to start the month of May. Hopefully a series against the Pirates can get them back on track.

They will be looking to Marco Estrada (6.05 ERA/5.76 FIP) to get back on track. Estrada has not started since May 5, when he allowed eight runs over 3.1 innings in a loss to the Cardinals. He was given a few extra days of rest between starts to hopefully get him back on track. In 2013, Estrada's strike out rate is still good (9.08 K/9), but his home run rate has skyrocketed (11 HR allowed, 2.56 HR/9), easily the worst in MLB among qualified starters. According to FanGraphs, 22.9% of his fly balls are leaving the park. Over the last two seasons, it had been closer to 10.5%.

Current Pirates are batting .208/.223/.386/.609 off of Estrada. Three current Pirates have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Garrett Jones 19 .158 .158 .158 .316
Andrew McCutchen 19 .368 .368 .737 1.105
Pedro Alvarez 15 .200 .200 .400 .600

To get a win tonight, the Brewers will have to go through A.J. Burnett (2.57 ERA/2.51 FIP). Burnett has easily been the ace of the Pirates staff so far in 2013. His K/9 rate has jumped up in 12.12 (second highest in MLB), while his HR/9 rate is down to 0.55. However, the Pirates haven't taken full advantage of it as they have lost four of his eight starts and have scored three or less runs in five of his eight starts. Burnett mainly throws four pitches: a fastball (92.2 MPH, 46.5%), a sinker (92.6 MPH, 15.1%), a knuckle curve (82.3 MPH, 31.8 %), and a changeup (87.7 MPH, 6.1%).

Current Brewers are batting .253/.307/.309/.616 off of Burnett. Six current Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Aramis Ramirez 25 .200 .200 .200 .400
Yuniesky Betancourt 23 .174 .174 .174 .348
Rickie Weeks 20 .211 .250 .263 .513
Carlos Gomez 17 .286 .412 .357 .769
Ryan Braun 16 .429 .500 .429 .929
Alex Gonzalez 12 .200 .333 .500 .833

Here are tonight's lineups:

Order Brewers Pos @ Pirates Pos
1 Norichika Aoki RF Starling Marte LF
2 Jean Segura SS Travis Snider RF
3 Carlos Gomez CF Andrew McCutchen CF
4 Aramis Ramirez 3B Gaby Sanchez 1B
5 Yuniesky Betancourt 2B Neil Walker 2B
6 Jonathan Lucroy C Pedro Alvarez 3B
7 Blake Lalli 1B Michael McKenry C
8 Logan Schafer LF Clint Barmes SS
9 Marco Estrada P A.J. Burnett P

One bonus note about the lineup today. The last few times the Brewers have faced Michael McKenry, they have run wild over him. In the last seven games he played catcher against the Brewers, the Brewers have stolen fourteen bases off of McKenry, including one game of three steals and two games of four. McKenry has not been better at throwing out runners in 2013; his caught stealing percentage is only 6% (1 of 18).

Let's add on to that with a few extra stats. Since 2010, the Brewers have stolen 74 bases in 51 games off of the Pirates for an average of 1.45 SB per game. If you look at just 2012 and 2013, it's 40 stolen bases in 18 games, and the average jumps to 2.22 SB per game. Their best was seven steals in a game last August in Pittsburgh. There's plenty of speed at the top of the Brewers lineup today. Keep an eye on that.

In the bullpen:

  • Mike Fiers pitched two innings (27 pitches) yesterday.
  • Mike Gonzalez pitched .2 innings (30 pitches) Saturday and also pitched Friday.
  • Brandon Kintzler pitched 1.1 innings (17 pitches) Saturday.
  • Jim Henderson pitched one inning (12 pitches) Saturday.
  • Burke Badenhop pitched two innings (26 pitches) Saturday.
  • Alfredo Figaro pitched two innings (19 pitches) Friday.
  • John Axford pitched one inning (23 pitches) Friday.

Weather at the start of tonight's game is expected to be 51 degrees with wind out of the northwest at 9 MPH. It will be a cool one, but there shouldn't be any problems playing it tonight.

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