At 67-83, the 2013 Brewers have now clinched a tie for the 34th best record in franchise history. The 1975, 2001 and 2003 teams all finished with 68 wins.
The first shot at win #68 will come at 7:10 tonight with Tyler Thornburg (2.18 ERA, 3.40 FIP) on the mound for his sixth start. Thornburg pitched his fifth quality start in as many tries on Thursday, holding the Cardinals to two runs on three hits over six innings with two walks and six strikeouts. He threw 99 pitches in that game.
Given the fact that Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Marco Estrada and Wily Peralta all project to return as members of the 2014 rotation, Thornburg is probably the leading candidate in the race to fill the last available projected spot in next year's starting staff. The Brewers could certainly do worse than a guy carrying a 2.66 ERA over eight career starts with 33 strikeouts in 44 innings.
Thornburg pitched against the Cubs in a doubleheader on July 30, working six shutout innings in a game the Brewers went on to win 3-2. No current Cubs have faced him ten times or more.
He'll face rookie lefty Chris Rusin (2.85 ERA, 4.27 FIP), who has also made the most of a limited opportunity this season. Rusin was a tough luck loser against the Pirates on Thursday, allowing two runs on four hits over seven innings with no walks and two strikeouts. He needed just 79 pitches to record 21 outs in the game.
Rusin was a fourth round pick in the 2009 draft and has a career 3.72 ERA over 105 minor league appearances despite not throwing all that hard: His fastball sits around 88 and he'll compliment it with a fair number of cutters and changeups. He won't get many strikeouts (just 4.8 per nine innings this season), so he relies pretty heavily on his defense.
Rusin struggled against the Brewers back on September 6, allowing two runs on seven hits over just 3.2 innings with two walks and a strikeout. Aramis Ramirez homered off him in that game. No current Brewers have faced him ten times or more.
Tonight's lineup is as follows:
Norichika Aoki RF
Jean Segura SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Carlos Gomez CF
Khris Davis LF
Sean Halton 1B
Scooter Gennett 2B
Tyler Thornburg P
And in the bullpen:
- Brandon Kintzler pitched one inning (16 pitches) last night, and also pitched on Monday.
- Jim Henderson pitched one inning (16 pitches) last night.
- Rob Wooten pitched one inning (15 pitches) on Monday.
- Michael Gonzalez pitched .2 innings (13 pitches) on Monday.
- Donovan Hand pitched .1 innings (four pitches) on Monday.
- Michael Blazek, Alfredo Figaro, Jimmy Nelson and Burke Badenhop last pitched on Saturday.
- Tom Gorzelanny is hoping to pitch again before the end of the season but is still bothered by shoulder soreness.
The forecast for tonight calls for a game-time temperature in the low 70's, and the Miller Park Roof Hotline says the roof is expected to be open. Assuming that's the case, expect the wind to be blowing from right to left.