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Today's Matchup: Milwaukee (Estrada) at St. Louis (Lohse)

Better than he should be.
Better than he should be.

If home runs weren't a thing, Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.34) would be having an excellent season. Since becoming a starting pitcher, Estrada has had 34 earned runs in 11 starts. Twenty-three of those runs scored on 15 home runs as Estrada has a 1.93 HR/9 on the season. If it weren't for that, Estrada would probably be looked at as more of a key piece for the Brewers in the future. He has been having a great season otherwise, with a 9.76 K/9 and 1.81 BB/9. Taken on their own, those two numbers are ace caliber. Estrada has perhaps been slightly lucky this season, with a .279 BABIP, however his career average in that stat is .287, so it may be sustainable.

Prior to his July 25 start against the Giants when he gave up five runs in four innings, Estrada had been on a pretty good run. Since May 23 he had a 3.45 in just under 29 innings. He bounced back pretty well after that poor start, giving up three earned runs in seven innings against the Astros on July 30.

Marco Estrada has faced just one Cardinals player at least ten times in his career. Over twelve plate appearances, Rafael Furcal has hit .167/.167/.250.

Opposing Estrada today will be Kyle Lohse (11-2, 2.91). For the first five years of his career, Lohse had a 4.82 ERA over 218 games. Then, he came to St. Louis and immediately put up a 3.78 ERA in 2008, easily the best of his career at that point. The next two years, he went back to being mediocre to bad. Then, he had a 3.39 ERA last year and a 2.91 ERA this season. Crazy.

This year, Lohse has a 5.25 K/9, right in line with his career averages. The bigger difference comes from his BB/9 which has gone from a 2.60 career number to 1.52 this season. Actually, his season this year is oddly similar to last season:

2011 2012
FIP 3.67 3.60
K/9 5.30 5.25
BB/9 2.01 1.52
HR/9 0.76 0.76
BABIP .269 .268
xFIP 4.04 4.20

Lohse has had just three starts this season where he has allowed more than three earned runs. One was his last start, against the Rockies on July 31. He allowed five earned runs in six innings. Prior to that, he had just a 2.06 ERA since the beginning of June.

Lohse throws four pitches primarily: An 89 MPH sinker (43%), an 84 MPH slider (24%), an 80 MPH changeup (18%) and a 90 MPH four seamer (11%). He has faced six current Brewers at least ten times in his career. Here is how they have fared:

Player PA Line
Ryan Braun 36 .294/.333/.559
Rickie Weeks 34 .267/.353/.300
Aramis Ramirez 22 .450/.500/.900
Corey Hart 20 .150/.150/.250
Nyjer Morgan 14 .364/.385/.455
Jonathan Lucroy 10 .375/.500/.500

In the bullpen:

Livan Herandez pitched 2 innings (25) last night.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched 1 inning (9) last night.

Mike McClendon
pitched 0.2 innings (11 pitches) Friday.
John Axford pitched 0.1 innings (25 pitches) Friday.
Kameron Loe pitched 1 inning (12 pitches) Friday.
Jim Henderson pitched 0.2 innings (16 pitches) Friday.
Jose Veras pitched one inning (15 pitches) Wednesday.
Manny Parra hasn't pitched since Tuesday, July 24 and isn't expected to be available this weekend.