Here's something you might have known: The Brewers are bad on the road, especially lately. They've lost nine straight games away from home, and haven't won a road game since playing the Astros before the All Star break. You may also have known, though, that the Astros are bad everywhere, especially lately. They're 4-34 in their last 38 games.
If the Astros are going to defy recent history and win a baseball game tonight it'll likely be on the back of Bud Norris (5.07 ERA, 4.29 FIP), who hasn't pitched in a game the Astros won since May 21. He has a 6.98 ERA over 58 innings during that stretch, but has been better lately: He's pitched at least six innings on six of his last seven starts. He allowed four runs on seven hits over six innings against the Braves on Sunday, walking three and striking out seven.
Norris missed a couple of starts in June and his velocity numbers would suggest he might have some kind of lingering issue. His fastball averaged around 94 mph in 2009 and 2010 before falling to 92.6 in 2011 and all the way down to 91.8 this season. Over a third of all of his pitches are sliders, which has been his only above average pitch as a major leaguer.
This is the fourth time the Brewers have faced Norris this season. They've scored eleven runs on 17 hits over 18.2 innings against him to this point, walking seven times and striking out 18 while hitting five home runs. Seven Brewers have faced him ten times or more:
He'll face Mark Rogers (5.91 ERA, 4.11 FIP), making major league appearance #7 and start #5 of his major league career. The former #5 overall pick allowed five runs on seven hits over five innings against the Cardinals on Saturday, walking one and striking out five. He only threw 72 pitches in the outing.
If the Brewers are serious about shutting down Mike Fiers to keep his inning count low, then they should probably consider doing the same for Rogers. Here are his innings pitched by season since 2009:
Rogers pitched a single inning in relief against the Astros in 2010, but has never started against them. No current Astro has faced him in the majors, although some probably have in the minors.
I wrote this post early this morning before spending the day at the State Fair, so I haven't seen today's lineup. If you have, please post it in the comments.
And in the bullpen:
Jim Henderson pitched one inning (18 pitches) Wednesday, and also pitched on Tuesday.
Jose Veras pitched one inning (15 pitches) Wednesday.
John Axford pitched one inning (13 pitches) Wednesday.
Francisco Rodriguez last pitched on Monday.
Kameron Loe last pitched on Sunday.
Livan Hernandez last pitched on Saturday.
Mike McClendon last pitched a week ago.
Manny Parra last pitched on July 24.