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Today's Matchup: Brewers (Marcum) vs Astros (Happ)

John Axford sent other bullpen members out to accept the Tip O'Neil Award prior to last night's game, but they tripped on the way to the mound so he had to come finish the ceremony.
John Axford sent other bullpen members out to accept the Tip O'Neil Award prior to last night's game, but they tripped on the way to the mound so he had to come finish the ceremony.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the quick turnaround between last night's night game and today's noon start, the Frosty Mug is off today. It will return tomorrow. - KL

The Brewers have already clinched a series victory and a winning homestand (5-3 entering today), but it'd be nice if they could pile on a bit this afternoon. A third consecutive win today would tie their longest streak of the season.

To do it they'll need a solid outing from Shaun Marcum (3.79/3.81 ERA/FIP), who has been pretty good so far in 2012. We've written at length about Marcum's odd home/road split as a Brewer (he's been much better on the road), but he picked up a quality start on Friday when he pitched six innings and allowed three runs on eight hits against the Rockies at Miller Park. He threw 105 pitches in that outing.

Keeping the ball in the ballpark is will likely remain a key for Marcum. Among the 81 pitchers in franchise history who have thrown at least 200 innings in a career, Marcum's 1.02 home runs per nine are the 30th highest. That's actually down from 1.2 for his career. Marcum has allowed three home runs in 19 innings this season, and nearly two homers per nine innings over his last ten starts (including four in 2011 and three in the postseason).

Marcum has faced the Astros three times in his career, and all three meetings came last season. He was very good against them in 2011, allowing four runs on eleven hits over 20 innings (1.80 ERA, 0.750 WHIP). He walked just four and struck out 22 in those outings. Jed Lowrie is the only current Astro who has faced him ten times or more: He's hitting .250/.400/.250 in ten plate appearances.

He'll face 29-year-old lefty J.A. Happ (4.00/3.75 ERA/FIP). Most of Happ's 2011 season was a disaster (he had a 6.26 ERA after facing the Brewers on August 5), but he's actually had a pretty impressive turnaround since then. Over his last 55 innings dating back to August of 2011 Happ has posted a 2.95 ERA.

Happ will work at or around 90 with his fastball, and throw it better than 60% of the time. Beyond that he'll throw a relatively even mix of sliders, curves and changeups. The fastball is his best pitch, according to FanGraphs. He's been getting good results with his slider in 2012, but the sample size is a little too small to likely be significant.

This will be the seventh time the Brewers have faced Happ. Two of the previous meetings came in 2011, when he allowed eleven runs (eight earned) on 17 hits over just nine innings. Three Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Ryan Braun 16 .214 .313 .500 .813
Corey Hart 16 .462 .563 .846 1.409
Jonathan Lucroy 10 .300 .300 .400 .700

Here's today's lineup:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Carlos Gomez CF
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart RF
Alex Gonzalez SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Shaun Marcum P

And in the bullpen:

Francisco Rodriguez pitched .1 innings (5 pitches) last night, has pitched in three consecutive games and leads the National League with eleven appearances.
John Axford pitched one inning (21 pitches) last night, and also pitched on Monday.
Kameron Loe pitched 1.1 innings (27 pitches) last night.
Manny Parra pitched .1 innings (5 pitches) last night.
Jose Veras pitched one inning (31 pitches) on Monday.
Tim Dillard and Mike McClendon last pitched on Saturday.

It's going to rain much of the day in Milwaukee today and the high temperature is only expected to be in the mid 50's, so the Miller Park roof will be closed for the 12th consecutive home game. If you see John Steinmiller, you should ask him about it.

Now, before you forget, go make your Prognostikeggers predictions.