Probables (2009 stats)
4/5 Ubaldo Jimenez (15-12, 3.47 ERA, 198 K, 85 BB, 132 ERA+, 3.63 xFIP) vs. Yovani Gallardo (13-12, 3.73 ERA, 204 K, 94 BB, 108 ERA+, 3.76 xFIP)
4/6 Greg Smith (no MLB stats) vs. Randy Wolf (11-7, 3.23 ERA, 160 K, 58 BB, 122 ERA+, 4.17 xFIP)
4/7 Aaron Cook (11-6, 4.16 ERA, 78 K, 47 BB, 110 ERA+, 4.20 xFIP) vs. Doug Davis (9-14, 4.12 ERA, 146 K, 103 BB, 111 ERA+, 4.68 xFIP)
It’s the first series of the year, meaning it’s extremely likely too much will be made of whatever the outcome will be. If the Brewers win the series, they’re doing it against a team that’s a trendy pick for the playoffs, and confidence will be high. If the Brewers lose the series — especially if Wolf or Davis have a bad outing — I get the feeling a lot of people will be convinced nothing’s changed from last season.
Personally, I’m just glad Brewers baseball is back.
The truth is that the Brewers have a pretty daunting first nine games ahead of them, and I could see them going 3-6 just as easily as I could see them going 6-3. The Brewers’ sluggish finish to their schedule in Maryvale dampered a lot of the enthusiasm that was surrounding this team in early March, but teams can slump at any time of the year, and Ryan Braun was held out of much of the final week.
The Rockies are definitiely a solid team, and we’re in line for some pretty good pitching match-ups. Jimenez is one of the best young pitchers in the game, and Cook has a history of dominating the Brewers (as most sinkerball specialists tend to do). Smith is the wildcard, stepping in for an injured Jeff Francis. You may remember him as one of the pieces the Rockies got from Oakland when they traded Matt Holliday. He was slated to start the year in the bullpen, having struck out 18 batters in 18 spring innings. Is he stretched out enough to start, or will the Rockies have to burn up their bullpen in the second game of the year? There will be a small amount of pressure on the Brewers to win at least one game in this series — they went 0-6 against the Rockies last season.
Regardless of the outcome, it’s nice to have baseball to look forward to every day, isn’t it?
Links of Interest
– AccuScore says the Brewers have a 68% chance of winning the opener if Yovani Gallardo has a quality start.
– USA Today notes that the past two NL wildcard winners will face off in this series.