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Today's Matchup: Milwaukee (Marcum) at Atlanta (Minor)

Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves leads the team on to the field before breaking both arms and needing his appendix removed.
Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves leads the team on to the field before breaking both arms and needing his appendix removed.

After a rough ending yesterday, the Brewers get a fresh start against the Braves today.

Shaun Marcum (1-0, 4.50) may not have the prettiest ERA after his first start, but he did pitch very well against the Cubs. In that start, he pitched six innings while allowing three runs on just five hits and no walks. He also struck out six batters. Two of his earned runs came via home runs--not a good sign, as he has struggled with the long ball over his career. However, one of those home runs was hit by the powerful Bryan LaHair to right field in Wrigley, where the wind was blowing heavily. In addition, the third run given up came only after a Geovany Soto triple that would have been caught had Nyjer Morgan not lost the ball in the lights. So, overall, a pretty good start for Marcum.

One interesting thing to note from that start is Marcum's pitch use. In 2011, he used a slider only 4.5% of the time according to Texas Leaguers Pitch F/X. In his start against the Cubs, he threw his slider 20 times--tied with his changeup as his most thrown pitch. The rest of his pitch selection was fairly normal. I'm not sure if throwing the slider more often was just a one-game thing or if it's something he's consciously trying to do more this season, but it merits watching against the Braves.

The only Brave to have faced Marcum at least ten times is Eric Hinske, who has hit .250/.357/.500 in 14 plate appearances.

Marcum will face off against Mike Minor (0-1, 10.80) who has not gotten off to the best start in 2012. In his season opening start against the Mets last week, Minor pitched five innings, allowing six earned runs on six hits and four walks. He also threw 104 pitches. The Braves are hoping that the 24 year old former first round pick will continue to improve on his half season in the majors last year. While Minor's 4.14 ERA in 2011 was respectable, he had 1.488 WHIP in 15 starts as he gave up a lot of hits. His 3.39 FIP was very good, however.

Minor has nothing left to prove in the minors anymore, however, and is one of several young, talented arms the Braves have in their system. In 16 starts in AAA during the 2011 season, Minor posted a 3.13 ERA and 1.192 WHIP, with a 3.67 K/BB ratio.

The left handed Minor throws four different pitches. A 91 MPH four seamer is his primary pitch, as he threw it 63% of the time in 2011. He'll also throw an 84 MPH changeup (20%), an 81 MPH curve (9%) and an 85 MPH slider (8%).

Minor has not faced a Brewer 10 times, though in nine plate appearances, Aramis Ramirez has hit .667/.667/1.111 against him.

Interesting lineup as Gomez takes over in CF against a lefty. Izturis is starting at short with Alex Gonzalez on paternity leave while Mat Gamel is bumped back a spot:

Weeks 2B
Gomez CF
Braun LF
Ramirez 3B
Hart RF
Lucroy C
Gamel 1B
Izturis SS
Marcum P

And in the bullpen:

Francisco Rodriguez pitched 0.1 innings (21 pitches) yesterday.
Marco Estrada pitched 0.2 innings (18 pitches) yesterday.
Kameron Loe pitched 2 innings (32 pitches) yesterday.

Tim Dillard
pitched two innings (21 pitches) Thursday and 0.2 innings (5 pitches) yesterday.
Manny Parra
pitched 2.1 innings (35 pitches) Thursday.
John Axford pitched one inning (20 pitches) Wednesday.
Jose Veras haven't pitched since Tuesday.