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Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Lohse) v Cubs (Jackson)

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The battle for fourth place starts tonight!

USA TODAY Sports

The Brewers have six games left in the month of June. If they split those games they'll have had a winning month in April (14-11), another in June (at 14-13) and somehow they'll still be 12 games under .500 overall.

They can take another step towards a positive month tonight with Kyle Lohse (3.68 ERA, 4.28 FIP) on the mound. Lohse received a no-decision against the Astros on Wednesday despite allowing just one run on six hits over six innings. He's posted a 2.08 ERA and thrown a quality start in each of his four outings in June, but has only factored in the decision one time.

Behold, for a moment, the value of throwing strikes. Lohse has walked two batters or less in 13 of his 14 starts in 2013 and has an ERA well under 4 despite allowing a relatively high home run rate (1.37 per nine innings) and being below average in strikeouts (5.7 per nine). He's also thrown six innings or more in ten of his 14 starts despite never throwing more than 108 pitches.

Lohse was a 29th round draft pick for the Cubs all the way back in 1996, but never appeared in a game for them. He's pitched against them 16 times in the majors and has a 5.17 ERA over 87 innings, but has yet to see them this season. Three current Cubs have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Alfonso Soriano 58 .357 .379 .643 1.022
Starlin Castro 20 .250 .250 .250 .500
Darwin Barney 18 .250 .235 .313 .548

He'll face veteran journeyman and familiar foe Edwin Jackson (5.49 ERA, 3.55 FIP), who is having a rough go of things in his first season with his eighth organization. Jackson pitched 5.1 innings against the Cardinals on Wednesday and allowed four runs on six hits, walking two and striking out one.

A quick glance at Jackson's 2013 numbers would suggest he's been a victim of some bad luck this year. Opposing batters are hitting .342 on balls in play against him, up from .308 for his career. That number is up despite the fact that he's getting a lot of ground balls (over 50% of balls in play for the first time since 2006) and his line drive rate is only up slightly. He'll throw a mid-90's faswtball with a lot of sliders and some cutters.

The Brewers faced Jackson twice in April and beat home both times, tagging him for a combined ten runs (six earned) on 12 hits over 12 innings. Six active Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Yuniesky Betancourt 35 .188 .229 .219 .447
Jonathan Lucroy 21 .350 .381 .800 1.181
Rickie Weeks 19 .278 .316 .833 1.149
Aramis Ramirez 18 .353 .333 .765 1.098
Norichika Aoki 14 .231 .286 .308 .593
Carlos Gomez 10 .100 .100 .200 .300

As of this writing tonight's lineup has not yet been posted. If you've seen it, please drop it in the comments.

And in the bullpen:

  • Tom Gorzelanny pitched 2.2 innings (45 pitches) on Sunday.
  • Jim Henderson pitched one inning (22 pitches) on Sunday.
  • Brandon Kintzler pitched one inning (19 pitches) on Sunday.
  • Michael Gonzalez pitched one inning (eleven pitches) on Sunday.
  • Francisco Rodriguez, John Axford, Donovan Hand and Burke Badenhop last pitched on Saturday.

The forecast calls for a game-time temperature around 75 tonight with scattered/isolated thunderstorms as the night goes along. The roof status for tonight is anyone's guess at this point.