His last time out, Yunesky Maya had a quality start for the first time in his career, allowing one run in six innings against an underwhelming Giants team that had trouble when Maya was finally able to use his fastball and get ahead in the count.
Tonight, he'll have the advantage of unfamiliarity; no one on the Cardinals' roster has ever faced the 29-year-old right-hander, who's made three starts this year after coming to the majors for a month last season.
Maya also catches a break in the sense that many of the Cardinals' best hitters (with the exception of Albert Pujols, of course) are either left-handed or switch hitters, so he'll get to face them from the left side. He's been much worse against righties than lefties in his short career, which is surprising considering how much he relies on his breaking balls, but he should face a number of lefties tonight.
He'd do well to make a strong impression tonight, too, because it could be his last start in the majors for a while. Tom Gorzelanny threw four rehab innings at Triple-A Syracuse last night, and while he allowed four runs in four innings, he's likely to come back soon, possibly this weekend against the Orioles. Maya finally showed some promise in his last start, after exhibiting little of it so far in his major league career. He's got a shot to continue it tonight at Nationals Park.