The Cardinals and Brewers open their final head-to-head series of 2013 on Friday, but they will both send pitchers to the mound who should be part of this matchup for many years to come.
Rookie hurlers Shelby Miller and Johnny Hellweg will kick off a three-game set at Miller Park.
Miller, part of the St. Louis rotation since Opening Day, will make his 30th start of the season as the Cardinals look to hold on to their one-game lead in the National League Central.
Despite battling efficiency issues versus Seattle that led to a high pitch count and an early exit, Miller earned his 14th victory on Sunday. The right-hander became the first Cards rookie to win 14 games since Dick Hughes won 16 in 1967.
"It's impressive," manager Mike Matheny said. "We had a couple [wins] that we let get away from us, too, that he had. He's getting better, and I think a day like today proves that, where he didn't have his best stuff -- he didn't have that live fastball -- and he still figured out ways to get people out."
While Hellweg, named Pitcher of the Year in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, undoubtedly has promise, the 24-year-old righty's recent transition to the Majors has been less smooth.
He is 1-4 with an 8.31 ERA through his first 21 2/3 innings in the Majors, and has surrendered three or more earned runs in each of his three starts at home. Hellweg gets one more opportunity to win for the first time at Miller Park, but he'll be facing a less-than-ideal opponent in the Cardinals. The Brewers are 4-12 against St. Louis this season, including 1-6 in Milwaukee.
"You know something, he just wants to come out and pitch," manager Ron Roenicke said. "It doesn't matter who it's against, where we are. He wants to show us what he can do, and he wants to get out of the chute better in the first and second inning. So I think that's what his focus is going to be, and I don't think it matters where we are."
Cardinals: Adams' elbow better than expected
With first baseman Allen Craig already sidelined indefinitely, the Cardinals got another injury scare Wednesday when Matt Adams left the game early with right elbow pain.
Though he was out of the lineup, Adams said he felt better than he expected Thursday morning. He wore a sleeve with tape beneath it and will begin wearing a brace Friday. He had surgery to remove bone spurs on the same below in August 2012.
"Not as bad as it was last year," Adams said. "It's a good sign. Just doing what the trainers tell me, and hopefully I'll be back out there soon."
Brewers: Segura won't be rushed back from hamstring strain
With only 10 games remaining, it's possible Jean Segura's season may already be over.
Segura suffered a mild strained right hamstring on Wednesday and was out of the lineup Thursday. Roenicke said the Brewers do not intend to rush their All-Star shortstop back too soon.
"He's day to day. He's sore today," Roenicke said. "And I say day to day, but that doesn't mean tomorrow. ... We're not going to be dumb about this. I'd like to get him back out there, but not at the risk of putting him out there too early."
• Yadier Molina made just his 10th career start at first base Thursday. With Craig and Adams out with injuries, Matheny plugged Molina in at first to give his All-Star catcher a day off behind the plate while keeping his hot bat in the lineup, but Molina caught later in the game.
• This series marks the final three home games for the Brewers and the conclusion of the Cardinals' last road trip. St. Louis will close out the season with six games at Busch Stadium, while Milwaukee travels to Atlanta and New York for its last seven contests.
• Miller will become the first Cardinals rookie pitcher to start 30 games since Rick Ankiel in 2000. He needs one strikeout to tie Harvey Haddix (163 in 1953) for third on the St. Louis rookie strikeout list.
Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com.This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.