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Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Marcum) at Cubs (Wells)

(Jinx-free opening line.)

Tonight I'm resisting the urge to pass judgment on the 2011 pitching performance of Randy Wells (4.93 ERA, 5.04 FIP), scheduled to pitch for the Cubs. He's pitched less often, allowed more walks, struck out fewer batters and allowed a lot more home runs in 2011 than in previous seasons but I'm sure that's all attributable to luck, you know? He was particularly unlucky on Thursday, when the Reds collected five runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings against him. Prior to that he'd been very good, posting a 1.26 ERA over four outings.

Wells' fastball sits in the high 80's, but he throws it less than 50% of the time. He'll make up for that by throwing a very good slider and plus changeups and cutters. In fact, his fastball has been his only below average pitch this season.

Wells has faced the Brewers twice this season and allowed seven runs on 16 hits in 16 innings, walking five and striking out four. Ryan Braun took him deep in one of those games. Seven Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Ryan Braun 26 .417 .462 .625 1.087
Prince Fielder 22 .353 .455 .588 1.043
Corey Hart 21 .200 .238 .300 .538
Rickie Weeks 17 .353 .353 .471 .824
Craig Counsell 12 .167 .167 .333 .500
Casey McGehee 12 .273 .250 .545 .795
Nyjer Morgan 11 .600 .636 .700 1.336

Shaun Marcum (3.40 ERA, 3.68 FIP) will set a new career high tonight with his 32nd start of the season, and could tie a career high with 7.1 innings pitched. He's only pitched that deep into a game one time since May, however, so odds are he'll have to wait until next week to pass that mark. He allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits to the Rockies on Wednesday over just five innings, walking one and striking out four.

Marcum is in somewhat uncharted territory lately: His last two starts have been his worst of the season by game score:

Date Opponent Game Score
September 14 Rockies 32
September 9 Phillies 34
August 2 Cardinals 35
June 17 Red Sox 37
May 10 Padres 42

This is only the second time Marcum has faced the Cubs: On July 28 he allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings in a 4-2 Brewer victory. Carlos Pena is the only Cub who's faced him ten times or more: He's hitting .214/.353/.286 in 17 PAs.

Jerry Hairtson Jr. started at shortstop and looked great last night, but Yuniesky Betancourt is back in there tonight:

Corey Hart RF
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Shaun Marcum P

And in the bullpen:

Tim Dillard pitched two innings (18 pitches) last night, and also pitched on Sunday.
Marco Estrada pitched two innings (32 pitches) last night.
Takashi Saito pitched one inning (five pitches) Sunday.
Frankie De La Cruz, Kameron Loe and LaTroy Hawkins last pitched on Saturday.
John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez last pitched on Friday.
Michael Fiers last pitched on Wednesday.


Odds are these two teams will get tonight's game in before the rain becomes an issue. The Weather Channel is calling for a 30% chance of showers starting around 10 pm.