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Today's Matchup: Brewers (Marcum) @ Pirates (Thompson)

Rub the sleep out of your eyes and get ready for an 11:35 first pitch in Pittsburgh.

That pitch will be thrown by 24 year old left handed rookie Aaron Thompson, making his major league debut. Thompson was a first round pick in 2005 but the Pirates are his third organization, and 2011 is his seventh season in the minors. Despite having been around a long time he's made just four appearances in AAA: Three of them came this season when he posted a 0.77 ERA in two starts and a relief appearance for Indianapolis. He last pitched on Friday, throwing four scoreless innings with a walk and four strikeouts. He threw 77 pitches in the game.

All I have for a scouting report on Thompson's arsenal is this blurb from John Sickels' Prospect Book in 2010:

He is still a fairly interesting prospect, thanks to an excellent changeup that plays off an 87-90 MPH fastball that he locates well. He also has a decent curveball and slider, but the fastball/changeup is his mainstay.

Those notes are over a year old, so take them with a grain of salt. Sickels rated Thompson as a C+ prospect in 2010, but left him out of the 2011 book. Obviously, Thompson is facing the Brewers for the first time.

He'll face Shaun Marcum (3.40 ERA, 3.61 FIP), who has been excellent lately. He's pitched 14.2 innings over his last two starts and allowed just two earned runs on eleven hits, walking three and striking out eight. He last pitched against the Mets on Friday and held them to a run over seven innings. The Brewers are 6-1 in his last seven starts.

Marcum has been relatively good lately at keeping the ball in the park: He's gone three starts without allowing a homer and has allowed just two in his last five. Prior to that, he had allowed at least one long ball in seven straight starts (and posted a 5.18 ERA over that stretch).

Marcum has faced the Pirates twice this year and been excellent in both outings. Over a combined 14.2 innings he's allowed one run on nine hits, walking three and striking out nine. The Brewers won both games. No current Pirates have faced him ten times or more.

Here's today's lineup:

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

And in the bullpen:

Kameron Loe pitched one inning (eight pitches) last night, and also pitched on Monday.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched one inning (19 pitches) last night.
Frankie De La Cruz pitched 1.2 innings (43 pitches) Monday.
Tim Dillard pitched two innings (38 pitches) Monday.
Takashi Saito pitched one inning (14 pitches) Monday.
Francisco Rodriguez last pitched on Sunday.
John Axford last pitched on Saturday.


The forecast should not be an issue in Pittsburgh today, as game time temps will be in the mid 70's and climb into the low 80's as the afternoon goes along.