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Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Gallardo) @ Nationals (Zimmermann)

I think a four game series in Washington sounds like a capitol idea.

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Yes, that pun was terrible. Let's move on.

Tonight at 6:05 the Brewers see the Nationals for the first time this year and will face Wisconsin native Jordan Zimmermann (2.28 ERA, 3.09 FIP), who might be a candidate for NL Cy Young. Zimmerman beat the Diamondbacks on Wednesday, allowing two runs on just three hits over seven innings. He's pitched seven innings or more in ten of his last twelve starts.

The cornerstone of Zimmermann's arsenal is a very good fastball: It sits in the mid 90's, he throws it around two thirds of the time and FanGraphs estimates it's been worth around +1.68 runs per 100 pitches. He's also got a good slider and will mix in some curves. He doesn't record a lot of strikeouts, but about half of all balls put in play against him are hit on the ground.

Zimmermann beat the Brewers twice a year ago, posting a 1.42 ERA against them over 12.2 innings of work with 13 strikeouts. Aramis Ramirez is the only current Brewer who has seen him ten times or more, and is hitting .375/.375/.750 over 16 plate appearances.

He'll face Yovani Gallardo (4.20 ERA, 3.94 FIP), whose strong month of June ended with a whimper last time out. He completed just four innings against the Cubs on Wednesday and allowed five runs (three earned) on eight hits, walking four and striking out five.

Here's a fun fact: Gallardo, who has been a big leaguer since 2007, is only three months older than Zimmermann. He's also roughly the same age or younger than Donovan Hand (27), Alfredo Figaro (28) and Marco Estrada (29).

Gallardo got roughed up by the Nationals in a pair of starts a year ago, posting an 8.10 ERA over ten innings. Five current Nats have faced him ten times or more:

Adam LaRoche 27 .333 .407 .667 1.074
Jayson Werth 16 .133 .125 .133 .258
Denard Span 15 .000 .000 .000 .000
Ian Desmond 11 .200 .273 .300 .573
Ryan Zimmerman 11 .250 .455 .625 1.080

As of this writing (8:11 pm Sunday, so this isn't really a surprise) the Brewers lineup for today has not been posted. If you've seen it, please drop it in the comments.

And the mess in the bullpen:

  • Brandon Kintzler pitched three innings (38 pitches) yesterday, and also pitched on Saturday.
  • Jim Henderson pitched one inning (eleven pitches) yesterday, and also pitched on Saturday.
  • John Axford pitched .1 innings (six pitches) yesterday, and also pitched on Saturday.
  • Tyler Thornburg pitched five innings (82 pitches) yesterday.
  • Francisco Rodriguez pitched 1.1 innings (39 pitches) yesterday.
  • Michael Gonzalez pitched one inning (31 pitches) yesterday.
  • Burke Badenhop pitched two innings (32 pitches) on Saturday.

For the second straight day, rain could be a factor in tonight's game. The forecast for tonight calls for a chance of scattered thunderstorms with a game time temperature around 80 and winds blowing out to left.