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Today's Matchup: Chicago (Chris Volstad) at Milwaukee (Shaun Marcum)

Please don't make me pitch again
Please don't make me pitch again

After a long, long game yesterday, the Brewers and Cubs get to go at it once more with both team's probably hoping their starting pitcher can eat a few innings.

For the Cubs, Chris Volstad (0-4, 6.55) will be taking the mound. If you'll remember, Volstad was the "prize" the Cubs received for Carlos Zambrano in a trade with the Marlins. Volstad has not won a game since July of 2011 and that's not really all that weird--he's just not that good of a pitcher. It's unlikely that he wouldn't pitch well enough to earn a win at some point, but it's not like he's really deserved any wins. The 25-year-old right hander has the worst ERA of his career and his worst WHIP (1.394) since his rookie year back in 2008. Volstad has actually kept up a very good FIP in 2012, though. Due mostly to a low walk rate and extremely low 0.55 HR/9, his FIP currently stands at 3.37.

His career ERA stands at 4.70 and career FIP at 4.46. However, despite those underwhelming numbers, he still gets his starts. In fact, he has started at least 29 games each of the last three seasons. Still, Volstad is still only 25 and was once a former prospect, so I can see why the Cubs would want to take a chance on him figuring it out. Volstad ranked as high as #40 on Baseball-America's 100 top prospects lists, and was top 100 three straight years. With the Cubs in a rebuilding process, it's the perfect opportunity to let him go out and pitch without any threat that he'll lose his job. If he works out, that's fantastic and you just got a good pitcher for cheap. If he doesn't work out, at least he's not Carlos Zambrano.

Volstad throws three pitches, primarily. He has a 91 MPH sinker (55% pitch selection), an 84 MPH slider (21%) and an 84 MPH changeup (13%). Texas Leaguers also has him working in the occasional curveball and four seamer.

Volstad has faced five current Brewers at least ten times in his career. Here is how they have fared:

Player PA Line
Nyjer Morgan 24 .200/.227/.350
Aramis Ramirez
16 .429/.438/.786
Ryan Braun
15 .214/.267/.286
Rickie Weeks 15 .200/.200/.400
Corey Hart 14 .182/.357/.182

For Milwaukee, it's Shaun Marcum's turn in the rotation. The Brewers bullpen had quite the workout today, so the Brewers will definitely be hoping for at least six solid innings from Marcum. So far, Marcum has pitched at least six innings in every start but one this season. That one start is also the only one that wasn't a quality start, and it's only because he didn't meet the minimum innings threshold. It was against the Astros when he pitched five innings and allowed three earned runs while striking out a season high seven batters. His other five starts have all been at least six innings and three or fewer earned runs.

In his last start, against the Giants, Marcum went six innings and allowed three earned runs on five hits and two walks. That start brought his season ERA up to 3.41, which falls almost exactly in line with his 3.44 FIP. Thanks to a couple four walk appearances, his BB/9 is up significantly so far this year. His K/9 is also up about one above average. I would expect both numbers to normalize as the season goes on. So far he has been able to keep the long ball in check. Home runs have been a fault of his before, so hopefully he can keep those numbers down.

Marcum has faced three current Cubs hitters at least ten times over his career. Here is how they have fared:

Player PA Line
David DeJesus 23 .053/.217/.053
Darwin Barney 10 .400/.400/1.000
Starlin Castro 10 .100/.100/.400


Nyjer Morgan CF
Jonathan Lucroy C
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart RF
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Edwin Maysonet 2B
Cesar Izturis SS
Shaun Marcum P

In the bullpen:

Vinnie Chulk pitched two innings (33 pitches) last night.
Manny Parra pitched two innings (30 pitches) last night.
John Axford pitched .2 innings (29 pitches) last night, and also pitched on Wednesday.
Jose Veras pitched .1 innings (21 pitches) last night.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched one inning (10 pitches) last night.
Kameron Loe pitched .2 innings (9 pitches) last night.
Tim Dillard pitched .1 innings (1 pitch) last night.

It's another beautiful day in Milwaukee, so the roof is open for the second consecutive game. The Brewers are 2-0 this season in games that start with the roof open. They're 3-12 in day games, so they may need all the help they can get.