> The Brewers travel to Houston tonight to start a three-game series against the worst team in baseball. But, there’s a bit more to this series than that: this is the last time the Astros will host the Brewers as their National League Central rival. After this season, the ‘Stros will make their long-awaited switch to the American League, once again giving both leagues 15 teams (which makes you wonder why Bud Selig moved the Brewers to the NL in 1998 in the first place, but that’s another debate).
Despite the Astros fallout after the 2010 season, they’ve actually had some pretty good memories over the past decade in the NL Central. In 2005, the Astros came back from a dismal 16-32 start to win the NL pennant, defeating the rival Cardinals to make it to the World Series that year. They were promptly swept in four games by the White Sox, but that’s about the best memory the Astros have in recent years.
Anyway, that aside, here are the probable pitchers for the series:
Mark Rogers (0-1, 5.91 ERA) vs. Bud Norris (5-9, 5.07 ERA)
Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.13 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-4, 5.60 ERA)
Yovani Gallardo (10-8, 3.79 ERA) vs. ???
Rogers will go tonight, making his fifth career start (third this year). In his first start, he was solid against the Nationals, going 5 2/3 innings while giving up two runs. In his second start, he really only had one bad inning, but he was charged with five runs in five innings against the Cardinals. Rogers has never faced the Astros.
Norris, on the other hand, is pretty enigmatic himself. After starting the year 5-1, he has lost eight consecutive decisions. His last time out against the Brewers, he went seven innings while giving up two runs, but his bullpen blew it behind him. Overall, Norris has been very inconsistent against the Brewers in his career. In his first three starts against them, he went 3-0 with a 2.32 ERA. But that all changed mid-way through 2011, and he’s now 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA against the Crew.
> The Brewers are contemplating shutting down Mike Fiers for the year in the near future. I’m not happy about it, but I’ll explain my opinion on it in tonight’s postgame.
> Shaun Marcum will make his first rehab start tonight at 5:35 PM CT in the first game of a Timber Rattlers double-header. He was originally going to make his start last night, but it was rained out.
> This isn’t necessarily news, but is an interesting case. Last Friday, first baseman Corey Hart made an error in the game against the Cardinals. But, MLB has overturned the ruling, and now the run is charged towards reliever Jim Henderson. So Henderson’s ERA, which started the day at 1.29, has escalated to 2.57, due to the limited number of innings he’s pitched.
> Surprisingly, since their move to the NL in 1998, the Brewers have gone just 40-71 in Houston (at Minute Maid Park and the Astrodome combined). Shows how much better of a team the Astros used to be, and how much worse of a team the Brewers used to be.
> The Brewers enter tonight on a nine-game losing streak on the road.
> The top three extra-base hit leaders in the NL are all Brewers: Aramis Ramirez (54), Ryan Braun, (51), and Hart (51).
> The postgame will be up later tonight. Here’s to hoping the Brewers send the Astros packing out of the NL Central.