Today's Matchup: Brewers (Fiers) @ Phillies (Lee)

Rich Schultz

Brewers go for a sweep for the first time in a month and a half.

It didn't seem possible a few days ago, but the Brewers have actually won two games in a row. They now have a chance to sweep a series for the first time since April 21, when they swept the Cubs.

They will be looking to Mike Fiers (5.66 ERA/6.84 FIP) to give them a good start today. His usage for the Brewers has been erratic, since he has been used as middle relief, long relief, and as a starter. In his last start on April 25, he got roughed up for four runs in four innings, with five hits, three walks, and five strikeouts on only 67 pitches. He has also made a relief appearance since then, pitching three scoreless innings in the extra-innings game against the Twins.

It's hard to figure out what Fiers problem has been. His fastball velocity is unchanged, but it hasn't been as effective. His curveball has been easier to hit as well, resulting in his struggles. His strikeout rate is down, and 26.9% of his fly balls are leaving the park, up from 8.6% in 2012. He has a four pitch arsenal to draw from: a fastball (88.1, 51.6%), a cutter (84.3, 13.9%), a curveball (70, 22.1%), and a changeup (81.9, 12.5%).

No current member of the Philles has faced Mike Fiers ten times or more. Ryan Howard has the best average at 2-for-3 with two doubles, and John Mayberry has faced him three times with one home run.

It will be a tough challenge for the Brewers to win, as they will have to get by Cliff Lee (2.34 ERA/2.83 FIP) today. He has easily been the best starter for the Phillies, though his numbers don't seem to reflect this. His strikeout rate is down (8.83 in 2012, 7.03 in 2013) and his walk rate is up (1.19 in 2012, 1.45 in 2013). His fastball velocity is down as well, but his home run rate has gone down as well. He has an arsenal of five pitches to draw from: a four-seam fastball (89.9, 15.4%), a two-seam fastball (90.7, 41.4%), a cutter (86.8, 20.3%), a curveball (74.6, 7.3%), and a changeup (84.3, 15.2%).

Six Brewers have faced Cliff Lee ten times or more. Here is how they have fared:

Alex Gonzalez 29 .333 .379 .556 .935
Carlos Gomez 26 .280 .308 .520 .828
Yuniesky Betancourt 25 .200 .200 .440 .640
Aramis Ramirez 17 .313 .353 .938 1.290
Ryan Braun 16 .500 .500 1.063 1.563
Rickie Weeks 11 .100 .182 .100 .282

I haven't seen a lineup as of this writing. If you have, please post it in the comments.

In the bullpen:

  • Francisco Rodriguez pitched 1 inning (19 pitches) yesterday and 1 inning (10 pitches) on Friday.
  • Brandon Kintzler pitched 1 inning (12 pitches) yesterday.
  • Tom Gorzelanny faced 1 batter (7 pitches) yesterday.
  • John Axford pitched .1 innings (5 pitches) on Friday and 1 inning (28 pitches) on Thursday.
  • Michael Gonzalez pitched 1.2 innings (14 pitches) on Friday.
  • Burke Badenhop pitched .1 innings (6 pitches) on Friday.
  • Donovan Hand pitched 2.1 innings (38 pitches) on Thursday.
  • Alfredo Figaro pitched five innings on Tuesday.

It should be a good day for baseball. Game time temperature will be around 87 degrees and it will be partly cloudy. Winds will be blowing from the SW at 13 mph.

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