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Today's Matchup: Milwaukee (Greinke) at Minnesota (Blackburn)

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Pitch face is a thing and bat face should be, too.
Pitch face is a thing and bat face should be, too.

Back during the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Nick Blackburn (3-4, 7.68) was a useful pitcher. He has always had low strikeout rates in his career, but he was able to keep his walks down as well, allowing him to keep an ERA that was just above 4.00 both years. However, his BB/9 has risen every year since 2009, culminating in a 3.53 BB/9 this season. With just a 4.36 K/9, that's not very good. And not very good is what Blackburn's 2012 season has been.

Five of his nine starts this season have seen Blackburn allow at least five earned runs compared to just one quality start. He has been giving up home runs at a very high rate. He's getting hit extremely hard (12.3 H/9). He's not pitching deep into games--he has made it six innings just three times this year and has not made it past six innings yet. In all honesty, I'm not sure how Nick Blackburn is in a major league rotation right now. This is how bad Blackburn has been: His last start, he gave up four runs in just five innings and his ERA dropped.

Blackburn throws four pitches: A 90 MPH fastball that comprises 60% of his pitch selection, an 82 MPH change of pace (16%), a 78 MPH curve (15%) and an 87 MPH cutter (8%). So, basically, feel free to sit back and wait for his fastball. You won't be waiting for long.

Blackburn has faced two current Brewers at least ten times. In 15 plate appearances, Corey Hart has hit .214/.267/.643 while Ryan Braun has a .583/.583/.917 line in 12 PA.

Zack Greinke (7-2, 2.96) is kind of the opposite of Nick Blackburn in that he is a really good major league pitcher. Greinke's K/9 (10.14) and BB/9 (2.05) are incredible, and this year he has cut back on the number of home runs he has allowed drastically, with just a 0.33 HR/9 so far. Greinke has a 1.98 FIP and a 2.34 xFIP. Really, Zack Greinke is having a special season. The last time a Brewers pitcher has had this good of a full season was Ben Sheets back when he had his phenomenal 2004 season (and finished tied for eighth in Cy Young voting). If we're counting partial seasons with the Brewers, then CC Sabathia and 2008 come to mind. Zack Greinke is a great pitcher and I wish he would stay forever.

Greinke has faced five current Twins at least ten times. Here is how they have fared:

Player PA Line
Joe Mauer 50 .302/.400/.326
Justin Morneau 33 .156/.182/.219
Denard Span 24 .286/.348/.381
Alexi Casilla 19 .176/.211/.294
Jamey Carroll 16 .188/.188/.188


1. Norichika Aoki (L) RF
2. Nyjer Morgan (L) CF
3. Ryan Braun (R) LF
4. Aramis Ramirez (R) DH
5. Corey Hart (R) 1B
6. Taylor Green (L) 3B
7. Rickie Weeks (R) 2B
8. Cody Ransom (R) SS
9. Martin Maldonado (R) C

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Ben Revere (L) RF
3. Joe Mauer (L) C
4. Josh Willingham (R) LF
5. Justin Morneau (L) 1B
6. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
7. Ryan Doumit (S) DH
8. Brian Dozier (R) SS
9. Jamey Carroll (R) 2B

In the bullpen:

Manny Parra pitched 0.1 innings (5 pitches) Friday and 1 inning (22 pitches) yesterday.
Jose Veras pitched 1 inning (19 pitches) last night.
John Axford
pitched .2 innings (22 pitches) Thursday and 1 inning (10 pitches) Friday.
Kameron Loe faced 1.2 innings (23 pitches) Friday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched .1 innings (6 pitches) Thursday and had pitched in five straight games.
Tim Dillard last pitched on Friday.
Juan Perez is in a case that says "Break glass and use only in case of emergency".