I've mentioned a couple times in the last several weeks that it says a lot about the Brewers plight that we're so excited to get Rick Helling back. He had a great partial season for Milwaukee at the end of last year, but--come on, this is Rick Helling. His ERAs in 2001-2003 were 5.17, 4.51, and 5.17, suggesting that he was barely a quality innings eater at the age of 30.
Now, at age 35, he's back from injury, armed with a patented Mike Maddux cutter, and ready to lead us to the promised land.
Actually, I'm most optimistic about his performance tonight because the Tigers can't possibly know what to expect. A couple of guys on the Detroit roster have probably faced him before--Helling was in the AL until '02, and Ivan Rodriguez even caught him for a few years. But while the Tigers may have sent an advance scout to Cincinnati to watch Carlos Villanueva last week, I'm guessing Detroit didn't send a representative to Nashville.
The flip side of tonight's matchup is interesting, as well: facing the Brewers is Zach Miner, making only his fourth career Major League start. He stepped into the rotation when Mike Maroth got hurt, and has been pretty darn good so far. Last week's quality start against Tampa Bay probably doesn't make a fantasy manager's heart go pitter-patter, but the previous strong outing against Toronto is something of an accomplishment. This all comes on the heels of a very strong couple of months in Triple-A.
I don't know this for certain, but I strongly assume that the Brewers do plenty of advance scouting for interleague games, so the Crew probably has detailed reports on Miner. It's not the Brewers way, but it seems like it would be a good night to make a point of seeing lots and lots of pitches the first time through, getting acclimated to Miner's repertoire, and maybe even getting to the bullpen by the 5th or 6th inning. The Tigers offense may be the best in baseball, but Milwaukee's is no slouch, either.
Well, usually it isn't. The less said about yesterday's debacle, the better, except for the much-deserved congratulations to Doug Davis. His ERA is down to 4.69 and his strikeout and walk numbers are starting to look a little healthier as well. A nifty outing from Jose Capellan, as well--five outs, four of them K's. That's the arm we intended to get back when we traded away Dan Kolb. I'm afraid we couldn't do quite as well with Kolb on the trade market today.