Today's Matchup: Brewers (Gallardo) @ Cubs (Villanueva)

Jonathan Daniel

Are YOU ready for 18 innings featuring the NL Central's worst and second worst teams!?

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Due to today's day game, the Mug is off today. It will return tomorrow. - KL

Clear your schedule and settle in, because there's a lot of baseball coming today.

At 1:20 Central time the Brewers will take on Carlos Villanueva (4.23 ERA, 4.09 FIP) in the first game of a day-night doubleheader, replacing a rainout from April 10. Villanueva is starting for the first time since Thursday, when he held the Diamondbacks to three runs on six hits over five innings, walking three and striking out five. He threw a season-high 103 pitches in that game.

Villanueva has split his first season in Chicago between the bullpen and rotation, and has been much better working in relief. He has a 3.06 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 17.2 innings out of the bullpen, while posting a 4.52 ERA with 50 K's over 71.2 innings as a starter. Opposing batters have a .765 OPS against him as a starter, compared to .687 while working in relief.

Villanueva was, of course, a member of the Brewers from 2006-10. He's also still only 29 years old. He made a relief appearance against the Crew on June 26, holding them scoreless with a strikeout for a single inning. No current active Brewer has faced him more than five times, and the guys who have seen him before have a combined .100/.143/.100 batting line in 21 plate appearances.

He'll face 27-year-old righty Yovani Gallardo (4.88 ERA, 4.03 FIP) in his final appearance before the trade deadline. Gallardo probably lowered his stock a bit with a disaster start against the Padres on Thursday, allowing six runs on eight hits over just 3.2 innings. He has a 7.56 ERA in five July starts.

With the Brewers likely considering options to sell before the trade deadline, there's a chance today could be Gallardo's final appearance for Milwaukee. If the Brewers do opt to move him, they'll be giving up a pitcher who ranks among their all-time leaders in several statistical categories:

Stat Gallardo Rank
Strikeouts 1036 3rd
ERA+ (min 500 IP) 108 5th
Wins 77 7th
IP 1040 12th

Gallardo lost to the Cubs on June 26 when they scored five runs against him on eight hits over just four innings. Five current Cubs have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Starlin Castro 34 .419 .441 .516 .957
Darwin Barney 23 .136 .174 .182 .356
Nate Schierholtz 17 .188 .235 .250 .485
David DeJesus 15 .273 .429 .727 1.156
Luis Valbuena 12 .300 .417 .400 .817

Here's the Brewers' lineup for game one:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Norichika Aoki RF
Jean Segura SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Carlos Gomez CF
Caleb Gindl LF
Jeff Bianchi 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt 1B
Yovani Gallardo P

And in the bullpen:

Rain is moving through Illinois throughout the day today, but the radar would seem to suggest the worst of it will stay to the south. Expect a game-time temperature around 73 with winds blowing from right to left.

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