The Brewers will get ten more chances on this road trip to have a good game on the road. Maybe tonight will be the night they finally take advantage of one.
Tonight they'll face rookie Rockie Juan Nicasio (4.91 ERA, 4.44 FIP), making his ninth career start. A 24 year old Dominican native, Nicasio earned a call up to the big leagues after making just nine starts in AA, posting a 2.22 ERA and striking out 63 batters in 56.2 innings for Tulsa. Those innings and his major league starts this season are his only professional appearances above High A. Nicasio has been hit or miss since coming up to the big leagues, but his last start was a miss: He allowed five runs on seven hits over just 2.1 innings in a 6-3 Rockies loss to the Braves.
The sample size caveat applies here, but so far as a major leaguer Nicasio has shown a mid-90's fastball, and a slider and changeup he'll throw about 12% of the time each. The fastball has been his only above average pitch as a big leaguer.
John Sickels rated Nicasio as a "B" prospect in his Baseball Prospect Book 2011. He was still in AA when these two teams met in May, so no current Brewers have faced him before.
Nicasio will face Chris Narveson (4.74 ERA, 3.54 FIP), who is on pace to set a new career high by throwing 178 innings this season. His hits (from 9.2 to 9.6 per nine) and walks (3.2 to 3.5/9) are up a bit in 2011, but so are his strikeouts (7.4 to 7.8), which is a large part of the reason he's posting a career best 3.54 FIP. He bounced back from a disaster start his last time out and held the Reds to two runs on seven hits over six innings, walking two and striking out five. The Brewers won the game 5-4.
If the altitude in Denver really does make it more difficult to throw a breaking pitch, then Narveson might be the kind of pitcher you'd want on the mound there. His primary off-speed pitch is a changeup he's been using over a third of the time in 2011. He'll throw the occasional curveball, although he might be well-advised to use it sparingly tonight.
Narveson didn't pitch when these two teams met in May but made two relief appearances and a start against the Rockies in 2010, allowing four earned runs on nine hits over 7.1 innings. No current Rockies have faced him ten times or more, but Todd Helton is 4-for-7 with three extra base hits for a .571/.500/1.286 line.
Via Todd Rosiak, here's tonight's lineup:
2B Rickie Weeks
CF Nyjer Morgan
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
RF Corey Hart
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
3B Craig Counsell
C Jonathan Lucroy
P Chris Narveson
And in the bullpen:
Marco Estrada pitched 2 innings (37 pitches) last night.
Zach Braddock faced four batters (25 pitches) last night.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched one inning (18 pitches) last night.
Kameron Loe pitched one inning (13 pitches) last night.
John Axford, Francisco Rodriguez and Takashi Saito haven't pitched since before the All Star break.
As for the weather: There's a chance precipitation could become an issue tonight, but it's a slight one. The Weather Channel gives storms a 30% chance of developing after 8 pm Central time tonight. Temps should be in the low 80's around gametime, dropping into the mid 70's by midnight.
To make your predictions for tonight's game, head over to Prognostikeggers.