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Game Thread #140: Cubs (60-80) at Brewers (65-74)

At least we can take comfort in knowing that, no matter how badly this weekend goes, we'll still come out of it ahead of the Cubs.

Current Series

3 game series vs Cubs @ Miller Park

Chicago Cubs
@ Milwaukee Brewers

Friday, Sep 10, 2010, 7:10 PM CDT
Miller Park

Carlos Zambrano vs Dave Bush

Clear. Winds blowing in from center field at 5-15 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 70.

Complete Coverage >

Sat 09/11 6:10 PM CDT
Sun 09/12 1:10 PM CDT

Follow the jump for tonight's pitching matchup, lineup and more!

If Dave Bush (4.71 ERA, 5.31 FIP) can keep the ball in the ballpark, the Brewers might be in pretty good shape tonight. Unfortunately, Bush has been terrible at preventing home runs lately, allowing 12 in his last five starts (a pretty incredible 3.6 per nine innings). Despite struggling with the long ball, though, Bush has provided a quality start in three of his last four outings and has pitched at least six innings in 14 of his last 17 starts, dating all the way back to early May.

A quick look at FanGraphs suggests there's not a lot to like about Bush's arsenal: His velocity is significantly down from previous seasons, and four of his five pitches are below average. His changeup is the only exception, but he only throws it around 6.6% of the time. He's facing the Cubs for the fourth time this season, and has had a quality start (2 ER in 6 IP), a disaster (3.2 IP, 7 ER) and one in the middle (6 IP, 4 ER) against them. Seven Cubs have faced him ten times or more:

Aramis Ramirez 40 .278 .350 .611 .961
Alfonso Soriano 39 .294 .333 .500 .833
Kosuke Fukudome 30 .440 .533 .880 1.413
Xavier Nady 18 .267 .333 .667 1.000
Geovany Soto 16 .250 .375 .750 1.125
Koyie Hill 11 .100 .182 .100 .282
Tom Gorzelanny 10 .111 .111 .111 .222

Bush will face Carlos Zambrano (4.23 ERA, 3.96 FIP), who seems like the kind of person you'd emigrate to avoid. If his charming personality wasn't enough, there would also be the fact that his WAR has been trending downward every season since 2004, going from 5.5 (according to B-Ref) that season to 1.2 this year. Tonight he'll make his 32nd appearance (16th start), and his WHIP (1.610), hits per nine innings (9.7) and walks per nine (4.8) are all at or near the worst marks of his career. He has been pretty good lately, though, posting a 1.98 ERA over his last six starts since returning to the rotation.

Zambrano has a four pitch arsenal, featuring a fastball (57.1% of pitches), cutter (16.1%), splitter (15.3%) and slider (10.8%). All but the cutter have been below average this season. He's facing the Brewers for the fifth time this season (the third as a starter), and has posted a 5.11 ERA in 12.1 innings against them, allowing 13 hits, walking ten and striking out 12. Seven Brewers have faced him ten times or more.

Prince Fielder 52 .342 .519 .632 1.151
Rickie Weeks 42 .211 .286 .342 .628
Craig Counsell 41 .242 .366 .303 .669
Ryan Braun 34 .258 .324 .387 .711
Corey Hart 31 .308 .419 .423 .842
Chris Dickerson 14 .364 .500 .636 1.136
Casey McGehee 13 .250 .308 .500 .808

Via the Brewers on Facebook, here's tonight's lineup:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Corey Hart RF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Chris Dickerson CF
Alcides Escobar SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Dave Bush P

And in the bullpen:

Jeremy Jeffress pitched 1 inning (16 pitches) Wednesday.
Manny Parra pitched 1 inning (11 pitches) Wednesday.
Trevor Hoffman pitched 1 inning (14 pitches) Tuesday.
John Axford pitched .2 innings (14 pitches) Tuesday.
Carlos Villanueva pitched .1 innings (9 pitches) Tuesday.
Mike McClendon pitched 1 inning (15 pitches) Monday.
Todd Coffey pitched .2 innings (9 pitches) Monday.
Zach Braddock pitched .1 innings (8 pitches) Monday.
Kameron Loe hasn't pitched since Saturday.
Brandon Kintzler last pitched a week ago today for Nashville.
Mark Rogers last pitched on Wednesday, September 1 for Nashville.

Enjoy the game!