With a win tonight (or anytime in this series) the Brewers can assure they'll still be in first place when they head out on the road on Friday.
To do it tonight they'll likely need a good start from Zack Greinke (4.50 ERA, 2.94 FIP), who's been up to the challenge lately. Greinke posted a 2.27 ERA over five July starts, striking out 43 and walking just nine over 31.2 innings of work. Last time out against the Cubs he posted his first scoreless outing as a Brewer, allowing just three hits and three walks over 6.2 innings, striking out nine.
It'll be interesting to see how Greinke responds to pitching on normal rest after his last outing. He threw 123 pitches against the Cubs on Wednesday, the second most he's thrown in a game in his career and the most he's thrown this season by a pretty wide margin (second most was 111 vs the Marlins on June 6). The next start after he threw 111 he was fine, pitching a quality start on normal rest against the Cardinals.
As mentioned above, this is the second time Greinke has faced the Cardinals this season. On June 11 he pitched seven innings and allowed three runs on seven hits, walking none and striking out nine. Three Cardinals have faced him ten times or more:
He'll face Chris Carpenter (3.68 ERA, 3.19 FIP), who has bounced back from a disappointing start to 2011 and is having roughly the kind of season you'd expect from him now. Carpenter posted a 4.88 ERA in his first 10 starts but a 2.83 mark over 12 starts since. He picked up a no decision on Wednesday, allowing two runs to the Astros on eight hits over seven innings, walking one and striking out eight.
Carpenter seems to have changed his mix of pitches a bit since 2010. Last year he relied very heavily on a curveball (27% of pitches), but he's cut it down to 20.6% of pitches this year. Meanwhile he's started to lean heavily on his slider, going from 19.9% of pitches last year to 25.4 this season. Both are plus pitches.
Carpenter faced the Brewers on June 11 and was tagged with a loss, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks over six innings. Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks both took him deep in that game. Eight Brewers have faced him ten times or more, led by two new additions:
Here's tonight's lineup:
Corey Hart RF
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Felipe Lopez 2B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Casey McGehee 3B
Jonathan Lucroy C
Zack Greinke P
And in the bullpen:
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (20 pitches) yesterday.
Takashi Saito pitched .1 innings (12 pitches) yesterday.
John Axford pitched one inning (9 pitches) yesterday.
LaTroy Hawkins hasn't pitched since Thursday.