Hopefully everyone is "well rested" after a day off in Miami.
When the Brewers resume play tonight, Ricky Nolasco (3.82 ERA, 3.45 FIP) will be on the mound for the Marlins. His traditional numbers might not suggest it, but FIP and xFIP would suggest that Nolasco has been one of baseball's better pitchers over the last three seasons. His ERA since Opening Day 2009 is 4.63, but his xFIPs have been 3.23, 3.37 and 3.16. His last start, however, was a disaster: Nolasco allowed eight runs on a career-high 15 hits over five innings to the Dodgers on Sunday.
Nolasco is a little bit like Shaun Marcum in that his strikeout numbers are ok (7.27 per nine this season) but his control is excellent. He's only walked 1.85 batters per nine over his first 73 innings. He has a fastball around 90, but relies heavily on a mix of sliders, curves and split finger pitches. All three breaking pitches have been above average over the course of his career, and the slider (+0.16 runs per 100) and splitter (+0.90) have been his best pitches this season.
Nolasco faced the Brewers one time in 2010 and was a winner: On June 1 he allowed three runs on seven hits over seven innings, walking one and striking out eight in a 6-4 Marlins victory. Three Brewers have faced him ten times or more:
Among players that have faced Nolasco at least ten times, only Stephen Drew (1.912) and Matt Holliday (1.786) have a higher OPS than Weeks.
Nolasco will face Randy Wolf (3.43 ERA, 4.35 FIP). If Nolasco's xFIP suggests he's been unlucky for three seasons, then Wolf's suggests he's been lucky every year since 2005. Wolf's ERA has been below his xFIP for each of the last seven seasons, most notably so in 2009 when his ERA was 3.23 and his xFIP was 4.10. With that said, Wolf has been good again lately. Over his last nine starts he's posted a 2.75 ERA in 55.2 innings, and he's been even better lately (1.83 ERA over his last three starts).
Wolf could probably help himself out a bit and stay in games a little longer if he could do a better job of throwing strikes. He's walked eleven batters over his last four starts (4.3 per nine), which is part of the reason he's only averaging about 5.2 innings per appearance despite posting a 3.52 ERA. He's also throwing his slider and changeup more this season and his fastball less, which could be contributing to the problem.
Wolf could also help the Brewers win by bridging the gap and agreeing to pitch to Jonathan Lucroy. He hasn't done that, however, so Wil Nieves and his .163/.217/.209 batting line are starting at catcher tonight.
Wolf didn't face the Marlins when these two teams met last season, and in fact he's only pitched against them one time since 2006. As such, it's not surprising that only one Marlin has faced him ten times: Wes Helms is hitting .346/.452/.731 over 31 PAs, but hasn't faced Wolf since 2008.
Via Tom Haudricourt, we know that tonight's lineup has a surprising omission:
Rickie Weeks 2B
Nyjer Morgan CF
Corey Hart RF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Mark Kotsay LF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Wil Nieves C
Randy Wolf P
In the bullpen:
Kameron Loe pitched one inning (17 pitches) Wednesday.
Marco Estrada and John Axford haven't pitched since Tuesday.
Sergio Mitre and Tim Dillard haven't pitched since Monday.
LaTroy Hawkins hasn't pitched since Sunday.
Mike McClendon hasn't pitched in a week.
It should be a postcard-perfect night for baseball tonight in Miami. Weather.com says the gametime temp will be around 84, dropping into the low 80's by the end of the game. There's no precipitation in the forecast.