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Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Estrada) at Pirates (Ohlendorf)

6:05 starts always mess with my mental schedule.

Hopefully the Brewers can exact some revenge for my frustration on Ross Ohlendorf (7.27 ERA, 6.35 FIP), making just his third major league start of the season and his first since April 8. He's been on the DL and/or in the minors for over four months now with a shoulder injury and has made seven rehab appearances. His last outing came a week ago today for AAA Indianapolis, where he allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings.  He threw 94 pitches in that outing.

When healthy Ohlendorf throws a low 90's fastball, a lot of sliders (over 25%) and some changeups. The slider, as you might expect, has been his plus pitch. It'll be interesting to watch his velocity tonight and see if it changes as the game goes along.

Ohlendorf hasn't faced the Brewers in 2011 but was a tough luck loser in his only start against them in 2010: He allowed just one run on five hits over six innings, walking one and striking out six. Three Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Ryan Braun 12 .083 .083 .083 .167
Craig Counsell 12 .455 .500 .545 1.045
Prince Fielder 12 .200 .250 .800 1.050

He'll face Marco Estrada (4.28 ERA, 3.74 FIP), who could very well be making his last major league start of the 2011 season. Marco has filled in admirably in his opportunities in place of Zack Greinke and Chris Narveson, posting a 3.93 ERA in 34.1 innings and striking out 31 while walking just ten.He pitched five innings against the Dodgers on Thursday and allowed a single run on three hits, walking two and striking out five.

He might not get the opportunity as a Brewer, but Estrada might have shown enough in 2011 to make the case that he belongs in a starting rotation somewhere next season. Opposing batters are hitting just .230/.299/.377 off of him as a starter, his walk rate is low and he's typically been able to pitch deep enough into games to give the team a chance to win. That's about all you can ask for from an end of the rotation guy.

Estrada has made a start and two relief appearances against the Pirates this season, and been outstanding. He's pitched nine combined shutout innings over the three outings, allowing just two hits and striking out ten while walking none. No Pirates have faced him ten times or more, and the ones that have seen him at all are a combined 2-for-25.

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
Jonathan Lucroy C
Marco Estrada P

And in the bullpen:

Frankie De La Cruz pitched 1.2 innings (43 pitches) yesterday.
Tim Dillard pitched two innings (38 pitches) yesterday.
Takashi Saito pitched one inning (14 pitches) yesterday.
Kameron Loe pitched one inning (14 pitches) yesterday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (8 pitches) Sunday.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched one inning (18 pitches) Sunday.
John Axford last pitched on Saturday.


The forecast tonight looks beautiful, with temps in the mid to low 70's and no rain in sight.