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Today's Matchup: Milwaukee (Narveson) at Houston (Norris)

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Bud Norris (6-8, 3.68) is taking the mound for the Astros today.  Norris is a very good pitcher and one who slightly reminds me of Yovani Gallardo.  Both have had high K/9 rates--Norris stands at 8.84 this season and 8.99 for his career--and both have had their share of troubles with walks.  Both pitchers are giving up a similar rate of homers this year, though Gallardo has been better through his career.  Neither player has all that significant of a flyball/groundball split.  This comparison is in no way, shape, or form perfect, of course--Gallardo is a much better pitcher--but I don't think it's all that unfair of one to make.  Norris is now 26 years old and 2010 is definitely the best of his three seasons in the majors.  His ERA is over half a run under his career number and his 3.90 FIP and 3.65 xFIP are both career bests, though his 4.28 tRA is slightly above what he posted last year.  Norris might not be a front line starter, but he's certainly someone teams would be thrilled to have in their rotation.

This year, Norris has pitched worse at home than he has on the road.  In Houston, opponents hit .248/.331/.423 against him, compared to a .245/.307/.380 line outside of Minute Maid.  He also pitches much better against right handed hitters, allowing a .203/.282/.338 line to them compared to .288/.358/.468 against left handers.

Norris is a three pitch pitcher.  The righty's arsenal includes a 93 MPH four seamer, an 86 MPH slider, and an 83 MPH changeup.  This year, his slider has been worth nearly seventeen runs more than average while his other two pitches both are in the negatives in terms of value.  Similarly, his slider is his only positive value pitch over his career, with his fastball being well below average. 

Five different Brewers have faced Norris ten or more times.  Here is how they've fared:

PA Slash Line
Ryan Braun 18 .294/.333/.706
Prince Fielder 17 .250/.294/.500
Casey McGehee 11 .273/.273/.364
Craig Counsell 10 .000/.400/.000
Jonathan Lucroy 10 .125/.300/.125

 

Making his return to the rotation after a spell in the bullpen for the Brewers is Chris Narveson (9-6, 4.28).  Narveson hasn't started since August 22, when he gave up no runs in 5.1 innings against the Pirates.  The last time he pitched was just three days ago, when he threw an inning against the Cardinals.  The Narv-dog has a 3.74 FIP and a 3.83 xFIP this year, along with a 1.9 fWAR--0.8 higher than Randy Wolf despite having four fewer starts. 

Only Carlos Lee has seen Narveson at least ten times for the Astros.  In 16 plate appearances, Lee has hit .375/.375/.750. 

Lineup:

CF Nyjer Morgan
2B Jerry Hairston Jr.
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
RF Mark Kotsay
3B Taylor Green
George Kottaras
SS Craig Counsell
LHP Chris Narveson

In the bullpen:

LaTroy Hawkins pitched 1 inning (11 pitches) yesterday
Francisco Rodriguez
pitched 1 inning (13 pitches) yesterday
John Axford
pitched 1 inning (16 pitches) yesterday
Takashi Saito
pitched 1 inning (9 pitches) Thursday.
Kameron Loe pitched 2.1 innings (28 pitches) yesterday.
Frankie de la Cruz 1 inning (8 pitches) Thursday and pitched 2 innings (23 pitches) on Wednesday.
Marco Estrada pitched 1 inning (24 pitches) on Wednesday and 1 inning (24 pitches) Tuesday.