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11:20 AM PT12:20 PM MT1:20 PM CT2:20 PM ET14:20 ET18:20 GMT2:20 11:20 AM MST1:20 PM EST1:50 PM VEN22:20 UAE1:20 PM CT, May 19, 2017
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois  Attendance: 36,923

Brewers' Espino ready for debut vs. Cubs

CHICAGO -- The Milwaukee Brewers arrive at Wrigley Field on a roll but are in a midst of a pitching shakeup that saw a longtime starter move to the bullpen.

Winners of nine out of 11 games, the Brewers begin a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon.

Wily Peralta won't be starting, as manager Craig Counsell shifted him to the bullpen. Peralta, 4-2 with a 6.08 ERA, will be replaced by 30-year-old Paolo Espino, who will make his major league debut.

Espino will join the Brewers from Triple-A Colorado Springs, the latest stop in an 11-year minor league career. He began his career in 2007 in the Cleveland Indians' organization and is 76-63 with a 3.69 ERA in 291 minor league starts.

"He certainly has paid his dues and logged a ton of innings in the minor leagues, and he started to really perform last year," Counsell said. "And the start of this year he has really performed."

Espino, the Indians' 10th-round pick in the 2006 draft, has spent portions of eight seasons in Triple-A.

The native of Panama signed a minor league contract with Milwaukee in November and is 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in seven starts with Colorado Springs this year.

"He has pitched very well, he has earned his shot is how we see it," Counsell said. "We're excited for him. It is a great opportunity."

Peralta, who has struggled in some starts, is now ticketed for long relief.

"It's something that it's kind of time for, we think," Counsell said earlier this week. "It's a big change for him, and it's not easy to make that transition during the season. But we'll get him in there, and I think he has a chance to be real good at it."

The Cubs will start right-hander Eddie Butler (1-0, 0.00 ERA). He will make his second start since joining the Cubs last week in St. Louis.

Butler was acquired by the Chicago organization in a February trade with the Colorado Rockies, and he spent the early stages of this season at Triple-A Iowa.

He has no record against the Brewers in two career starts, including an Oct. 1, 2016, appearance for the Rockies when he worked 2 1/3 innings of relief.

It will be his second career start at Wrigley Field and first as a Cub. Butler picked up the win on July 29, 2015, for Colorado after throwing five innings while allowing three earned runs on five hits.

Butler said he is trying to maintain a low-key, steady approach after working six scoreless innings and allowing just two hits in a 3-2 win over the Cardinals last Friday.

"It's another game, the first one at Wrigley for the home team," Butler said. "And I'll go out there and attack guys, get guys to put the ball in play and rely on my defense."

Butler will be tasked with pitching well against another hot team. The Brewers took the final three games of their four-game series in San Diego, including a 4-2 victory Thursday.

Nobody has been hotter on the Brewers than Eric Sogard, who recorded his second four-hit game of the series. Sogard went 4-for-4 Thursday and highlighted his day with a two-run double in the seventh to cap a 12-pitch at-bat.

Sogard's big showing occurred as Eric Thames did not start each game due to strep throat. Thames, who is hitting .313 with 13 home runs and 25 RBIs, pinch-hit Thursday and is expected to start Friday.

Since joining the Brewers last weekend after a promotion from Colorado Springs, Sogard is hitting .588 (10-for-17) with two home runs and eight RBIs.

"Unbelievable," Counsell said.

Espino will attempt to stop an offense that scored 25 runs during a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.

Javier Baez hit a grand slam and drove in five runs Thursday in Chicago's 9-5 win, while Kris Bryant added his eighth homer.

"We're trending in the right direction, which is good," Chicago left-hander Jon Lester said.

Updated May 18, 2017

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