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Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Greinke) vs Pirates (Maholm)

Maybe I'll see you there tonight as the Brewers look to keep a good thing going at home.

Tonight they'll send Zack Greinke (4.21 ERA, 2.99 FIP) to the mound, bumped up a day in the rotation but pitching on normal rest. Greinke has been excellent lately: since the end of interleague play he has a 1.63 ERA over six starts, averaging about 6.1 innings per start with 7+ strikeouts and less than two walks. He was very good against the Astros on Sunday, allowing a run on four hits over seven innings. He walked three and struck out six in that game.

Here's something to file away with the "Greinke was throwing too many strikes" theory: On July 3 Greinke had a 5.66 ERA, and had walked just 14 batters in 68.1 innings (1.8 per nine). He's walked eleven in six starts since (2.6 per nine), and as I mentioned above he's posted a 1.63 ERA during that time.

This is Greinke's second start against the Pirates this season: On May 15 he allowed five runs on six hits in just five innings, walking one and striking out five. Neil Walker took him deep in that game. The only Pirate who's seen Greinke ten times is Ryan Ludwick, who's gone 0-for-9 and reached on catcher's interference once.

He'll face Paul Maholm (3.54 ERA, 3.73 FIP), who is quietly having the best year of his career. Maholm's ERA and FIP are the lowest they've ever been in a full major league season, and he's on pace to pitch over 210 innings for the first time. He was roughed up by the Padres on Saturday, allowing seven runs on ten hits over 6.2 innings with a walk and five strikeouts. The Pirates are 7-17 when he starts this season, and 49-43 in all other games.

Maholm works in the mid-upper 80's but throws a lot of sliders and changeups (18 and 17% of all pitches, respectively). Last time out against the Padres he threw the changeup almost 30% of the time. Statistically the changeup has been his best pitch this season (+1.03 runs per 100), but his slider has been his best pitch for his career.

This is the second time he's faced the Brewers this season: On April 14 Maholm allowed two runs on four hits over seven innings in a 4-1 Brewer win. Six Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Prince Fielder 49 .089 .163 .089 .252
Corey Hart 48 .341 .417 .707 1.124
Ryan Braun 37 .323 .432 .484 .916
Felipe Lopez 34 .212 .235 .303 .538
Casey McGehee 21 .235 .381 .412 .793
Jerry Hairston Jr 17 .333 .353 .800 1.153


Tonight's lineup, from the Brewers' Facebook page:

Corey Hart RF
Jerry Hairston, Jr. CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Josh Wilson 2B
Jonathan Lucroy C
Zack Greinke P

And in the bullpen:

Tim Dillard pitched one inning (15 pitches) last night.
Kameron Loe pitched one inning (12 pitches) last night.
Frankie de la Cruz pitched one inning (12 pitches) last night.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched 1 inning (14 pitches) Wednesday.
John Axford, LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito all last pitched on Tuesday.