We need a metaphor that's the opposite of "out of the frying pan and into the fire." Then I could apply it to tonight, when the Brewers go from playing the 42-63 Cubs to playing the 35-70 Astros.
Randy Wolf (3.62 ERA, 4.34 FIP) gets the start tonight, and he's been batting regression a bit lately. He's only had one really poor start during this stretch, but he's posted a 4.69 ERA over his last six starts and the Brewers are 2-4 in them. He was solid but unspectacular on Saturday, allowing three runs on seven hits over six innings in a 4-2 Brewer loss.
Even when he's not pitching all that well, Wolf adds some value to the Brewers by eating a fair number of innings. He's pitched at least seven innings ten times this season, which leads the team. He's also pitched at least six innings in eleven of his last 12 starts, dating back to May 17. With Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford both having pitched in each of the last three games, the Brewers could really use a long outing from him tonight.
Wolf has faced Houston twice this season and been great, allowing just two runs over 15 innings in back-to-back starts in April. He allowed just eight hits and two walks while striking out eight in those games. Nine Astros have faced him ten times or more:
He'll face rookie right-hander Jordan Lyles (4.55 ERA, 4.21 FIP). Lyles, who is just 20 years old, was a sandwich pick (38th overall) in the 2008 draft, selected five picks after the Brewers took Jake Odorizzi and two after they selected Evan Frederickson. He hasn't been much of a spark for the Astros: They've lost nine of his first ten games. He pitched six innings against the Cubs on Sunday, allowing three runs on nine hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
We haven't seen much of Lyles' stuff in the majors, so here's an excerpt from what John Sickels said about Lyles in his 2011 Baseball Prospect Book:
Lyles works right at 90 MPH, occasionally adding a few extra MPH. He has four secondary pitches to go with the heat (curveball, slider, cutter, changeup), with scouts giving the best marks to the curve and change. His command is sharp and his mound savvy is way beyond his years.
Sickels listed Lyles as a B+ prospect for 2011, which is pretty high praise for a guy he thought needed another year in the minors.
Lyles wasn't with the Astros when these two teams met in April, and no current Brewers have faced him in the majors.
Via Tyler Barnes, we know that new Brewer Felipe Lopez is getting his first shot tonight and the Money Order is in full effect:
Corey Hart RF
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Felipe Lopez 2B
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
George Kottaras C
Randy Wolf P
And in the bullpen:
John Axford pitched 1 inning (16 pitches) yesterday and has pitched in three straight games.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched 1 inning (20 pitches) yesterday and has pitched in three straight games.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched one inning (15 pitches) yesterday.
Takashi Saito pitched 0.1 inning (2 pitches) Wednesday.
Kameron Loe hasn't pitched since Tuesday.
Marco Estrada hasn't pitched since Saturday.
Tim Dillard didn't even have time to develop an Eric Farris impression.