Shelby Miller has baffled numerous opponents this year, but none more so than the Milwaukee Brewers.
He'll aim for his third straight win over Milwaukee on Monday night as the St. Louis Cardinals continue their NL Central road trip.
The Cardinals (71-52), one game back of Pittsburgh for first place, have had their way with the Brewers this year, winning all four meetings in Milwaukee and eight of 10 overall. Miller (11-8, 2.97 ERA) dominated them twice, striking out eight over seven innings of a 2-0 home win on April 12, then limiting them to one run over six innings in a 6-1 road victory on May 3.
Miller's 0.69 ERA versus Milwaukee is his lowest against any opponent the rookie has faced more than once this season. Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy are a combined 1 for 16 with seven strikeouts, though Gomez hasn't played since Thursday due to a sprained right knee and is considered day-to-day.
Miller, however, has been mediocre of late, allowing 11 runs in his last 16 2-3 innings over four starts.
He gave up two solo homers and five runs in six innings of a 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, one week after throwing two pitches in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers after taking a leadoff line drive on the elbow.
"Health-wise, he felt fine," manager Mike Matheny said. "He got a couple pitches more in the middle of the plate than he wanted to early. I think stuff-wise, it looked normal."
Conversely, Milwaukee starter Marco Estrada (5-4, 4.71) has struggled mightily versus St. Louis, going 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three outings this year, including his worst performance of the season. He gave up a career-high eight runs and six hits over a season-low 3 1-3 innings in a 10-1 home loss on May 5 and is 0-4 with a 6.55 ERA in 10 career games against the Cardinals.
Estrada has been solid since returning from a strained left hamstring, though, yielding one run over 11 innings in two starts.
"Overall, I can't complain about this," Estrada told the team's official website after limiting the Rangers to a solo homer and three other hits over six innings of a 5-1 victory on Tuesday. "I kept the team in the game and we pulled it off. It's a confidence booster."
Yadier Molina is 9 for 18 versus Estrada and 4 for 9 over his last two games after going hitless in five at-bats against Pittsburgh on Thursday - his first contest since missing two weeks with a sprained right knee.
Matt Carpenter drove in a pair of runs in a 6-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday and is hitting .377 over his last 14 games.
Milwaukee (54-70) had enjoyed a five-game run of strong pitching from Aug.10-15, with starters throwing at least six innings and allowing two or fewer runs in each outing. The Brewers won despite a five-run, 4 2-3 inning performance from Tom Gorzelanny in a 7-6 win over Cincinnati on Friday, but couldn't overcome the seven runs surrendered by Wily Peralta over 4 1-3 innings in a 9-1 defeat on Sunday.
Norichika Aoki is just 5 for 24 over his last six games but is one of the few Brewers to experience success against Miller, going 3 for 6.