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Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Estrada) v Cubs (Samardzija)

Tonight a familiar foe comes to Miller Park for the first time in 2013.

Jonathan Daniel

If it feels like these two teams just met, it's because they did. The Brewers and Cubs will renew acquaintances today for the first time since the final game of their series at Wrigley eight days ago.

They'll open the series tonight with Marco Estrada (4.50/3.97 ERA/FIP in 2013, 3.64/3.35 in 2012) on the mound for the fourth time this season. Until yesterday, Estrada's victory against the Cubs on April 8 was the only win by a Brewer starting pitcher in 2013. He faced the Cardinals on Sunday and received a no-decision, allowing three runs on seven hits over six innings with a walk and seven strikeouts.

Estrada throws a lot of strikes, but sometimes those strikes get hit pretty hard. He's the only Brewer starter who has allowed a home run in each of his first three starts in 2013, although he's still a long way away from the season-opening franchise record:

Pitcher Season Consec. GS w/ HR allowed
Nelson Figueroa 2002 10
Mike Burns 2009 8
Ruben Quevedo 2003 8
Gary Glover 2005 7
Jim Abbott 1999 7

As I mentioned above, Estrada threw seven innings against the Cubs on April 8 and allowed two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out six. Three current Cubs have faced him ten times or more:

Alfonso Soriano 13 .333 .385 .583 .968
Starlin Castro 12 .417 .417 .750 1.167
David DeJesus 12 .167 .167 .167 .333

He'll face 28-year-old righty Jeff Samardzija (2.75/1.76 ERA/FIP in 2013, 3.81/3.55 in 2012), the Cubs' Opening Day starter. Samardzija was a tough luck loser on Saturday, allowing two runs on seven hits over six innings against the Giants. He walked one and struck out five in that game.

Despite having made just three starts (compared to four for all the pitchers ahead of him), Samardzija is fourth in the NL with 27 strikeouts this season. He's second among qualified pitchers with 12.4 K's per nine innings, and has managed that feat while keeping his walk rate pretty low (2.7 per nine innings). He also hasn't allowed a home run in 2013 after giving up 20 last year.

The Brewers missed Samardzija when these two teams met last week but faced him twice last season. He held them to a combined four runs (three earned) on ten hits over 12 innings last season. The only current Brewer he's faced ten times or more is Ryan Braun, who owns a career .462/.563/.769 line against him.

Here are tonight's lineups:

Order Cubs Pos @ Brewers Pos
1 David DeJesus CF Norichika Aoki RF
2 Starlin Castro SS Jean Segura SS
3 Anthony Rizzo 1B Ryan Braun LF
4 Alfonso Soriano LF Rickie Weeks 2B
5 Nate Schierholtz RF Jonathan Lucroy C
6 Wellington Castillo C
Alex Gonzalez 3B
7 Luis Valbuena 3B Carlos Gomez CF
8 Darwin Barney 2B Yuniesky Betancourt 1B
9 Jeff Samardzija P Marco Estrada P

And in the bullpen:

  • Alfredo Figaro pitched one inning (21 pitches) yesterday.
  • Michael Gonzalez pitched one inning (17 pitches) yesterday.
  • John Axford pitched one inning (13 pitches) yesterday.
  • Jimmy Henderson pitched one inning (17 pitches) Wednesday.
  • Burke Badenhop pitched one inning (11 pitches) Wednesday.
  • Tom Gorzelanny and Brandon Kintzler last pitched on Tuesday.

It's a cold, miserable day for baseball outside in Milwaukee, so expect the Miller Park roof to be closed again tonight.