It's been a while since the Brewers have won a game. Maybe they should do that tonight.
They should get plenty of opportunities against Francisco Liriano (6.45 ERA, 4.44 FIP), who has had the wheels come off of his career. Liriano was worth six wins above replacement (rWAR) in 2010 but, even including that season, he's posted a 4.86 ERA and walked four batters per nine innings since Opening Day 2009. He was booted from the rotation on May 7 after posting a 9.45 ERA over six starts, but this is his third outing since returning to a starting role. He pitched 5.2 innings against the Cubs on Sunday and allowed four runs on four hits, walking three and striking out six.
I've said this each of the last three days but it's true again today: Liriano will reward hitters who are willing to wait for their pitch. He's walking over 5.5 batters per nine innings this season, and less than 40% of his pitches are in the strike zone. He throws in the low-to-mid 90's, and nearly a third of all of his pitches are sliders.
Liriano pitched a scoreless inning in relief against the Brewers on May 18, allowing two hits and a walk but keeping the Brewers off the board. Three Brewers have faced him ten times or more:
Carlos Gomez is also 5-for-7 against Liriano with a pair of home runs for a .714/.714/1.714 line.
He'll face Yovani Gallardo (4.21 ERA, 3.93 FIP), who has been significantly better than the numbers would indicate this season. Gallardo pitched seven innings against the Padres on Sunday and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits over seven innings, walking two and striking out five. He's pitched a quality start in seven of his eight starts since May 1, lowering his ERA from 6.08 to 4.21.
As has been the case throughout his entire career, high pitch counts in short outings have limited Gallardo's ability to dominate a game. He's thrown 100 or more pitches in each of his last eight outings (averaging 107 per start) but has recorded an out in the seventh inning just twice over that stretch. There are 44 pitchers in baseball who have started at least ten games this season and averaged 100 or more pitches, but Gallardo is one of just 13 of them averaging less than six innings per start.
Gallardo received a no decision against the Twins on May 19, allowing two runs (one earned) on just three hits over six innings, walking three and striking out three. Four Twins have faced him ten times or more:
Here's tonight's lineup:
Norichika Aoki RF
Carlos Gomez CF
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart 1B
Rickie Weeks DH
Cody Ransom SS
Martin Maldonado C
Edwin Maysonet 2B
And in the bullpen:
Francisco Rodriguez pitched .1 innings (6 pitches) last night and has pitched in each of the Brewers' last five games (over six days).
John Axford pitched .2 innings (22 pitches) last night and also pitched on Wednesday.
Kameron Loe faced three batters (13 pitches) Wednesday.
Manny Parra pitched one inning (9 pitches) Wednesday.
Jose Veras faced one batter (5 pitches) Wednesday.
Tim Dillard last pitched on Friday.
Juan Perez has three hours to spend looking for Jim Thome's missing home run ball from last night.
Weather could be a slight factor tonight, as The Weather Channel is listing a 35% chance of isolated thunderstorms during the game. The temperature should be in the low 80's at game time.