This will be the rubber match between two of the best teams in the MLB.
Boston will have Tim Wakefield (3-2, 4.39) on the mound pitching today. The knuckle-baller has always been a fairly solid starter, a good back of the rotation kind of guy, but is now 44 years old and has one of the highest FIPs of his career, 5.07. He never was a big strikeout guy, but his K/9 is down from a career six to a season four. He had been working out of the bullpen until injuries forced him into the starting rotation, but he's had seven starts since the beginning of May and, for the most part, has been fairly effective, allowing just one or two runs in four of the seven starts. His best outing of the year may have been his most recent one when he went seven innings against the Rays and allowed just one earned run on four hits.
There's no deception on Wakefield's part as to what he will throw. This year, he's thrown his knuckeball--coming in at 65 MPH--a whopping 90% of the time. Every now and then, he'll throw in a "fast"ball that comes in around 77 MPH or a 60 MPH curveball.
Wakefield has faced three different Brewers at least ten times. Here's how they've fared:
For the Brewers, it will be Yovani Gallardo (8-3, 3.76) taking the mound. Gallardo has really picked things up since starting the season off slow and now has his FIP down to 3.53. His K/9 numbers are still lower than normal this season at 8.10 compared to a 9.16 career average and 9.73 2010, but his BB/9 is down some, too, currently sitting at 3.28. Since May 7, Gallardo has a 1.90 ERA and has held opponents to a .556 OPS. He's also struck out 54 batters in 52 innings, which is a more normal K/9 of 9.35.
Gallardo has not faced a current Red Sox player at least ten times, though Adrian Gonzalez does have nine plate appearances against him, hitting .375/.444/.750 with a home run and four strikeouts.
2B Rickie Weeks
RF Corey Hart
DH Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
3B Casey McGehee
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
LF Nyjer Morgan
CF Carlos Gomez
C Jonathan Lucroy
Weirdly, I'm kind of disappointed that we're wasting a Yovani start where he can't bat but Yuni and Gomez can.