Tonight's game is the 13th of 13 consecutive against likely NL playoff teams (the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates), and the Brewers are 6-6 in the first 12. A winning record over that span would be a pretty impressive feat.
They'll get a shot at that elusive seventh win at 6:05 tonight when they take on Gerrit Cole (3.81 ERA, 3.34 FIP), the former #1 overall pick from the 2011 draft. Cole is making his 14th start in his first major league season, and his first since allowing two runs on a career-high ten hits over six innings against the Padres on Wednesday.
Cole has been slightly more hittable lately, posting a 4.43 ERA over four starts in August and allowing opposing batters to hit .282/.319/.388. Some of that might just be luck, though, as his opponents are batting .344 on balls in play over that time. He'll throw a mid-to-upper 90's fastball about two thirds of the time, mixing in a slider, curve and changeup.
Cole pitched a quality start against the Brewers on June 28, holding them to three runs on eight hits over six innings with three walks and three strikeouts. Carlos Gomez went 2-for-3 against him in that game, and Norichika Aoki went 1-for-2 with a walk.
He'll face veteran righty Yovani Gallardo (4.61 ERA, 4.02 FIP), who continues to search for consistency in a frustrating year. Gallardo inched across the finish line with a quality start on Friday, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits over six innings with two walks and five strikeouts.
Tonight could be just the third time all year Gallardo has pitched three consecutive quality starts, matching streaks from April and June. To do it, though, he might need to improve his strikeout numbers. He's striking out just 6.2 batters per nine innings since July 1, down from 8.9 for his career.
Gallardo has faced the Pirates three times already this year, starting two Brewer losses and one win. Combined over those three games he has a 3.71 ERA over 17 innings, walking eight and striking out 17. Nine current Pirates have faced him ten times or more:
Tonight's lineup is as follows:
Scooter Gennett 2B
Jean Segura SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Carlos Gomez CF
Khris Davis LF
Caleb Gindl RF
Juan Francisco 1B
Yovani Gallardo P
And in the bullpen:
- John Axford pitched one inning (12 pitches) last night.
- Michael Gonzalez pitched .2 innings (12 pitches) last night.
- Tyler Thornburg pitched .2 innings (two pitches) last night.
- Burke Badenhop pitched .1 innings (eleven pitches) last night.
- Rob Wooten pitched 1.2 innings (24 pitches) on Tuesday.
- Jim Henderson pitched one inning (20 pitches) on Tuesday.
- Brandon Kintzler pitched one inning (nine pitches) on Tuesday.
Last night I said it was going to be a nice night for baseball in Pittsburgh and got surprised by rain. Tonight also looks nice, though, with a game time temperature in the low 80's without a cloud in the sky and light winds.