With the loss of a key defensive star for a few weeks and the loss of their starting first baseman and shortstop for possibly the year, the Brewers will be relying on pitching more than ever to win games. How appropriate that they are playing the Giants as they learn that.
If you remember, the Giants have been the epitome of great pitching and lackluster hitting pretty much since the end of the Barry Bonds era. Matt Cain (1-2, 2.35) was a big part of that, especially the last several seasons. Cain has moved from being a very good second pitcher to being one of the best pitchers in the National League. This corresponds to a continued drop in BB/9, a number which is all the way down to 1.41 so far this season. Cain's strikeouts numbers have hovered at 7 K/9 since 2007, his second full year in the majors.
So far this year, Cain already has a complete game one hitter (11 strikeouts) and a nine-inning's pitched two-hitter under his belt. He also went eight innings in his last start, allowing two earned runs. He has yet to give up more than six hits in a start. By contrast, the Brewers have had six or fewer hits in about 1/3 of their games.
Cain has never had the greatest FIP with it instead lingering in the mid to high 3.00s (except 2011, when it shot down to 2.91). However, I think he has shown that he is one of those pitchers that FIP doesn't match up all that well with. His actual results have always exceeded his FIP with little variance.
Cain throws five different pitches: A 91 MPH four seamer (44% pitch selection), an 85 MPH slider (18%), an 85 MPH changeup (17%), a 91 MPH two seamer (10%) and a 77 MPH curve (10%). Cain has faced five different Brewers hitters at least 10 times. Here is how they have fared:
For the Brewers, Shaun Marcum (1-1, 3.19) will take the mound. He has once again started the year off hot. However, unllike last year, the Brewers haven't been winning in his early starts. Milwaukee won on his very first start of the year, then dropped the next four games by scores of 1-2, 3-4, 5-7, and 0-2. Marcum has not given up more than three earned runs in a given start, however. In addition, his best outing yet was his last one, when he pitched seven three-hit, shutout innings. Of course, Edinson Volquez had his best start since whenever he was actually a good pitcher and the Brewers bats didn't do anything that night.
Marcums strikeouts numbers are up, but so are his walk numbers. That's over just five starts and I would expect the numbers to normalize over the year. Maybe starting this afternoon. Unfortunately, Shaun Marcum can struggle in day games, allowing a 4.14 ERA and a .735 opponent OPS over his career in the daylight.
Marcum has faced just one solitary Giants player at least ten times. In 13 PA, Melky Cabrera has hit .385/.385/.385.
Lineup, which features a shiny new first baseman and a shitty used shortstop hand-me-down from your older brothers:
And in the bullpen:
Kameron Loe pitched 0.2 innings (10 pitches) Friday and 0.1 innings (1 pitch) yesterday.
Jose Veras pitched 1 inning (24 pitches) Friday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched 1 inning (10 pitches) Friday.
John Axford pitched 1 inning (12 pitches) Friday.
Vinnie Chulk is there.