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Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Gallardo) at Cardinals (Lohse)

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The Brewers and Cardinals continue their series today at 3:10.

Today for our friends from St. Louis it's Kyle Lohse (2.44 ERA, 3.27 FIP). He's the fourth pitcher with an ERA under 3 the Brewers have faced in the last six games. Lohse has been the best pitcher in the NL this season when it comes to keeping runners off base. His 2011 WHIP is just 0.835, as he's allowed just 29 hits and eight walks in 44.1 innings of work in 2011. His walk rate (1.6 per nine innings) is less than half of the 3.4 he posted last season, and opposing batters are hitting .200 on balls in play against him. In other words, he's due for pretty significant regression.

Lohse doesn't get many strikeouts (5.3 per nine this season), so he'll let opposing batters make contact. He throws a high-80's fastball and mixes in a lot of changeups and sliders, plus the occasional curve. FanGraphs says all four of his pitches have been significantly above average in 2011.

This is Lohse's sixth season in the NL Central, so he's faced the Brewers a fair amount before. Last season he made two starts against them, allowing eight earned runs in eleven innings. Seven Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Craig Counsell 25 .458 .480 .708 1.188
Prince Fielder 24 .300 .417 .350 .767
Rickie Weeks 22 .250 .318 .300 .618
Ryan Braun 21 .400 .429 .700 1.129
Corey Hart 12 .083 .083 .083 .167
Mark Kotsay 10 .100 .100 .100 .200
Casey McGehee 10 .200 .200 .300 .500

Meanwhile, Yovani Gallardo (6.10 ERA, 4.38 FIP) could really use a good start to get back on track and stop the panic cycle regarding his performance. He was pitching pretty well through five innings against the Braves on Monday but failed to record an out in the sixth, finishing with five runs allowed on nine hits with four walks and seven strikeouts. He has an 8.89 ERA in his last five starts.

A lot has been made of the fact that Gallardo's strikeout rate is significantly down this season, from 9.7 in 2010 to 6.5 this year. With that said, he's struck out seven batters in six innings or less in two of his last three starts, so there's reason to believe that number will bounce back as the season goes along. Opposing batters are also hitting .358 on balls put into play against him, and that's not likely to be a sustainable number.

Gallardo faced the Cardinals three times last year and had two disaster starts to go with one good one. All told he allowed fourteen runs (nine earned) on 14 hits in 14.2 innings, walking six and striking out 11. Six Cardinals have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Lance Berkman 22 .294 .455 .353 .807
Albert Pujols 21 .375 .476 .625 1.101
Yadier Molina 18 .308 .500 .692 1.192
Ryan Theriot 16 .385 .500 .462 .962
Colby Rasmus 14 .364 .500 .636 1.136
Matt Holliday 11 .222 .364 .444 .808

There are only 15 players in all of baseball who have faced Gallardo at least ten times and posted an OPS above 1.000. The Cardinals have three of them.

As of this writing I haven't seen today's lineup. Maybe you have? If so, drop it in the comments.