A win tonight could clinch a series victory for the Brewers, and ensure that they'll be no less than four games ahead in the Central when they return home Friday.
To get it they'll have to beat Jake Westbrook (4.83 ERA, 4.30 FIP), who has been pretty consistent lately. Westbrook got off to a rough start in 2011 and carried a 6.92 ERA into May, but has posted a 3.91 ERA and averaged about six innings per start in 15 appearances since. He picked up a no-decision against the Marlins on Friday, allowing two runs on six hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out four in the game.
Westbrooks has a high 80's/low 90's fastball, and will mix in cutters, changeups and sliders. The changeup (+0.92 runs per 100) has been his only above average pitch this season, but the fastball and slider have been roughly league average for his career as well. Regardless of what he's throwing, he likely won't throw many pitches tonight: He's averaged 87 pitches per start over his last six outings.
Westbrook has faced the Brewers one other time this season: On June 12 he allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings, walking one and striking no one out in a 4-3 Brewer win. Two current Brewers have faced him ten times or more:
He'll face Randy Wolf (3.61 ERA, 4.34 FIP), who was just knocked around by the Cardinals last week. Wolf faced St. Louis in the final game of last week's series and allowed five runs on nine hits over six innings, walking two and striking out two. That ended a streak of four straight quality starts. He's still pitched at least six innings in eleven straight starts and seven or more in seven of his last ten appearances.
Wolf throws one of the slowest curveballs you'll consistently see in the majors (67.4 mph on average), and has been getting great results with it this season. FanGraphs has it as his best pitch at +0.67 runs per 100, and he's using it 18.5% of the time. His high-80's fastball has also been a plus pitch (+0.57 runs per 100).
This is the third time Wolf has faced the Cardinals in 2011 and the results have been ugly. In eleven combined innings he's allowed eleven runs on 16 hits, striking out four and walking three. Six Cardinals have faced him ten times or more:
Here's tonight's lineup:
Corey Hart RF
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jerry Hairston Jr 2B
George Kottaras C
Randy Wolf P
And in the bullpen:
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (22 pitches) last night.
John Axford pitched one inning (15 pitches) last night.
Takashi Saito pitched one inning (14 pitches) last night.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched one inning (13 pitches) last night.
Marco Estrada and Kameron Loe last pitched on Sunday.
Tim Dillard left is knitting basket in Houston and is pretty upset about it.
As of this afternoon the tarp was on the field at Busch Stadium and heavy rain was falling. Things appear to have cleared up, though, and conditions should be near ideal tonight: Temps in the upper 70's around game time falling into the upper 60's overnight.