It's one last hurrah for Shaun Marcum in a Brewers jersey tonight - we hope!
After struggling post-shoulder issues, Marcum finally settled down in his last two starts. He pitched six innings of one-run baseball against the first-place Reds last week, giving the Brewers a much needed win as they fought for the second Wild Card.
Now that those hopes have been dashed, Brewers fans have to hope that Marcum can up his averges and do his part to get the Brewers pitchers the single-season team strikeout record. The team needed to average 10 Ks a game in the final five games of the homestand. Marco Estrada had 11 on Saturday, Fiers had 10 and the bullpen added three more yesterday. That means the Brewers are just 26 strikeouts away from tying the 2003 Cubs for the single-season record. An average of just under 9 Ks over each of the next three games will accomplish the feat.
Unfortunately, this season Marcum has averaged just over five strikeouts a game. Either Marcum needs to step it up or he needs to exit the game early enough for the bullpen to pick up his slack.
Aside from the strikeout record, the Brewers are playing for a winning season. They've secured .500, but one win in the final three games will mean they finish with a winning record despite being 12 games under .500 on August 20.
Despite missing the season with shoulder problems and only appearing in 20 games, Marcum has managed a 6-4 record and 3.74 ERA.
Clayton Richard is hoping to notch his career-best 15th win in his final start of the season. He had a chance in his last outing, but got hit for four runs on ten hits in just 2 1/3 innings.
The 15 wins would be important to the Padres, as it would be the most wins from any of their pitchers since Jake Peavy won the Cy Young in 2007 with 19 wins.
Richard has been a workhorse for the Padres this season. He's near the tops of the NL with 32 starts and 210 1/3 innings pitched. He's made a strong comeback after he lost much of 2011 to shoulder surgery. He's posted 18 quality starts.
One of the reasons for Clayton's increased success this season is a change in his approach to the strike zone. Where he used to induce fly balls, he's started working lower in the zone to induce ground ball outs.
Another is his efficiency. He was averaging more than 16 pitches per inning and is down almost two full pitches per inning this season, which is also near the top of the league. This of course allows him to pitch deeper into games.
Lineups weren't out at the time of writing, but Roenicke hinted that he'll be resting the players who are starting to be nicked up and ailing. This likely means Corey Hart gets a rest, but could also allude to Ryan Braun and Aramis Ramirez. I understand Roenicke's concern, but I'd rather see the winning record secured before he sits the three biggest bats in the lineup. They've made it this far, I'm not sure one or three more games is going to make much difference in their recovery.