The Brewers are 7-3 at home this season, but just 3-18 in their last 21 games against the Reds. Tonight, we'll witness the conflict between the somewhat difficult to resist force and the object that can't be moved most of the time.
When the Brewers take the field tonight Chris Narveson (2.19 ERA, 3.05 FIP) will be on the mound. Despite the fact that he's posted a 2.19 ERA in his four starts the Brewers are just 1-3 this season when he pitches, losing three one run games. Narveson has pitched a quality start in three of four outings this season and did so on Wednesday, allowing three runs to the Phillies on four hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out four in the game.
Narveson's changeup has been the most notable change in his game this season. Last year he threw it slightly more than 20% of the time and it was a little below average. This season he's throwing it closer to 30% of the time and it's easily his best pitch, at +5.52 runs above average per 100 according to FanGraphs. He's making room for more changeups by throwing fewer sliders and curves. Both pitches have been below average this season.
Narveson didn't face the Reds when these teams met the last time, but did make two starts against them last year. Over a combined 11.1 innings he allowed four runs on eight hits, walked three and struck out eight. No Reds have faced him ten times, but Joey Votto is 4-for-7 with a walk and a home run.
Narveson will face Bronson Arroyo (4.24 ERA, 3.82 FIP), who is also making his fifth start. Like Narveson, three of Arroyo's four starts have been of the quality variety. Last time out he allowed three runs in 6.1 innings against the Diamondbacks, giving up five hits and a walk while striking out eight.
Arroyo is making his 174th career start as a member of the Reds tonight. To put that in context, there are only six Brewers that have reached that mark: Jim Slaton, Moose Haas, Ben Sheets, Mike Caldwell, Bill Wegman and Teddy Higuera.
Arroyo beat the Brewers on Opening Weekend, holding them to three runs on six hits over seven innings, walking none and striking out five. Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun took him deep in that game. Six Brewers have faced him ten times or more:
Via Tyler Barnes, here's tonight's lineup:
Rickie Weeks 2B
Carlos Gomez CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Mark Kotsay RF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Chris Narveson P
And in the bullpen:
John Axford pitched one inning (19 pitches) yesterday, and also pitched on Saturday.
Sean Green pitched .2 innings (28 pitches) Saturday.
Brandon Kintzler pitched 1 inning (22 pitches) Saturday.
Kameron Loe pitched 1 inning (12 pitches) Saturday.
Mitch Stetter pitched .1 innings (5 pitches) Saturday.
Zach Braddock faced one batter (3 pitches) Saturday.
Sergio Mitre has not pitched since Monday.