Today's Matchup: Brewers (Gallardo) vs Cardinals (Garcia)

Ron Roenicke isn't getting that high five until after the Brewers win.

In two short hours the Brewers and Cardinals will meet in the 2012 home opener at Miller Park, so it's time to break out your superstitions. As I write this I've got a pumpkin pie in the oven.

Even if I hadn't made a pie, though, the Brewers would have to feel pretty good about having Yovani Gallardo (4.56 ERA this spring, 3.52/3.59 ERA/FIP in 2011) on the mound as they start their 2012 campaign. Gallardo struck out 23 opposing batters in 23.2 innings this spring, although he did have rough outings in each of his last two starts. He last pitched on Sunday against the Giants, when he allowed four runs on eight hits over 5.2 innings.

Gallardo's mix of pitches will probably draw a fair amount of attention again in 2012 as he either resumes throwing or continues not throwing his oft-mentioned changeup. It was far and away his fourth most often thrown pitch (1%) in 2011 behind his low-to-mid 90's fastball (59%), slider (20%) and curve (20%). FanGraphs rates the fastball as his best pitch last season, but his slider has been better over the course of his career.

In this morning's Mug we briefly discussed Gallardo's history with the Cardinals, as he's posted a 5.66 ERA and allowed 13 home runs in eleven career appearances against them. Last season wasn't any better, as he posted a 5.70 ERA over 23.2 innings against them during the season and allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings in the NLCS. Six current Cardinals have faced him ten times or more:

Batter PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Lance Berkman 37 .276 .432 .310 .743
Yadier Molina 30 .208 .367 .458 .825
Matt Holliday 23 .200 .304 .600 .904
Rafael Furcal 19 .429 .579 .857 1.436
Jon Jay 18 .250 .250 .500 .750
David Freese 11 .300 .364 .500 .864

If you had asked me months ago I would have told you that Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright would almost certainly start this game, but instead the Brewers will face Jaime Garcia (2.79 ERA this spring, 3.56/3.23 ERA/FIP in 2011). Garcia last faced the Nationals on Sunday, allowing a run on five hits over six innings with no walks and three strikeouts.

Garcia is only 25 but set a clear career high by pitching 220.1 innings last season (194.2 during the season and 25.2 more in the playoffs). He throws a 90 mph fastball along with a fair number of cutters, changeups and the occasional curve. The changeup was his best pitch in 2011.

Garcia faced the Brewers twice last season and allowed seven runs over 14 innings, but four of those runs were unearned. He also made two starts against the Brewers in the NLCS and allowed a combined seven runs on 13 hits over 8.2 innings. Six current Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Batter PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Ryan Braun 27 .296 .296 .593 .889
Corey Hart 27 .440 .481 .440 .921
Rickie Weeks 24 .263 .417 .526 .943
Jonathan Lucroy 18 .167 .167 .167 .333
Carlos Gomez 16 .188 .188 .250 .438
Aramis Ramirez 10 .333 .400 .444 .844

Here's today's lineup:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Carlos Gomez CF
Ryan Braun LF
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Corey Hart RF
Alex Gonzalez SS
Mat Gamel 1B
Jonathan Lucroy C
Yovani Gallardo P

And in the bullpen:

Tim Dillard pitched 1.1 innings (31 pitches) on Wednesday.
John Axford pitched one inning (26 pitches) on Wednesday.
Manny Parra faced six batters (20 pitches) on Wednesday.
Marco Estrada pitched one inning (13 pitches) on Wednesday.
Francisco Rodriguez and Jose Veras last pitched on Tuesday.
Kameron Loe last pitched on Monday.

Enjoy the game!

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