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Today's Matchup: Brewers (Gallardo) v Giants (Cain)

Clear your schedule for the afternoon and get back to your couch to watch this potentially fascinating Thursday afternoon matchup.

Mike McGinnis

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Due to today's early start time, the Mug is off for the day. It will return tomorrow. - KL

If nothing else, today should be interesting.

For the first time since his Tuesday arrest for drunk driving, today the Brewers will send Yovani Gallardo (6.61/4.31 ERA/FIP in 2013, 3.66/3.94 in 2012) to the mound. Compared to his recent off-the-field issues Gallardo's on-field work seems trivial, but he pitched six innings against the Cardinals on Saturday and allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits over 5.1 innings. All but one of those runs scored in a disastrous sixth inning.

For what it's worth, Gallardo has done a better job of throwing strikes in 2013. He's walked just three batters over 16.1 innings, including none against the Cardinals on Saturday. In 2010 and 2011 Gallardo had three streaks of six consecutive starts or more with two or fewer walks, and posted a combined 3.24 ERA over the 25 starts encompassed in those streaks.

Gallardo has faced the Giants eight times in his career, but did not see them last season. Four Giants have faced him ten times or more:

Hunter Pence 30 .214 .267 .321 .588
Pablo Sandoval 16 .133 .188 .333 .521
Angel Pagan 13 .385 ,385 .615 1.000
Andres Torres 11 .000 .182 .000 .182

He'll face 28-year-old righthander Matt Cain (5.94/3.80 ERA/FIP in 2013, 2.79/3.40 in 2012), whose "slow start" may be a bit misleading. Nine of the eleven earned runs he's allowed in 2013 came in one appearance, and the other two came on Friday against the Cubs when he pitched seven innings and allowed seven hits, walking two and striking out six.

The biggest thing to see when you consider Cain is consistency. He's thrown over 200 innings in each of the last six seasons (and 217 or more in each of the last five) with an ERA under four and frequently under 3. He's consistently good against both righties and lefties, with right-handed batters posting a .645 OPS against him and lefties at .671. He's also consistently good from start to finish during the season. Consider, for a moment, his career numbers by month:

Month IP ERA
March/April 223 3.43
May 269 3.61
June 251.2 3.22
July 234.1 3.15
August 288.1 3.00
September/October 287 3.42

Cain faced the Brewers twice a year ago and was pretty good, allowing a combined six earned runs (a 3.86 ERA) on 17 hits over 14 innings with one walk and 18 strikeouts. Four current Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Ryan Braun 23 .364 .391 .500 .891
Rickie Weeks 20 .333 .400 .500 .900
Alex Gonzalez 13 .000 .077 .000 .077
Jonathan Lucroy 12 .417 .417 .667 1.083

As of this writing I haven't seen starting lineups from either team. If you have, please drop them in the comments.

And in the bullpen:

  • Jimmy Henderson pitched one inning (17 pitches) last night, and also pitched on Tuesday.
  • Burke Badenhop pitched one inning (11 pitches) last night.
  • Mike Fiers pitched 1.1 innings (37 pitches) on Tuesday.
  • Tom Gorzelanny pitched one inning (21 pitches) on Tuesday.
  • John Axford pitched one inning (14 pitches) on Tuesday.
  • Brandon Kintzler pitched .2 innings (eight pitches) on Tuesday.
  • Michael Gonzalez last pitched on Sunday.
  • Alfredo Figaro took an epic nap yesterday.
The Miller Park roof is going to pay dividends again today. Rain is expected through the afternoon with the possibility of thunder, but baseball should continue inside uninterrupted.