Today is the Brewers' fifth game of the spring and their fourth consecutive day with a home game.
Today they'll wrap up that homestand with Yovani Gallardo (3.66 ERA, 3.94 FIP) making his first official Cactus League start and potentially his last before leaving Brewer camp for the World Baseball Classic. Gallardo pitched two innings in the intrasquad game on Friday and allowed three runs on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
Sometimes it's important to step back and remember that Gallardo is still relatively young for a pitcher with six seasons of major league experience. He turns 27 tomorrow but has already made 151 appearances and 148 starts as a Brewer, and needs just 83.2 innings this season to become only the 12th Brewer ever to pitch 1000. He's also still under contract through 2014 with a club option for 2015.
Gallardo's fastball velocity may be something to watch this season. According to FanGraphs his average fastball sat at 91.8 mph last season, down from 92.7 in 2012. He also threw his slider more often than ever (22.5% of all pitches) a year ago and his curveball less (18.5%). His changeup remains a consistent topic of conversation but a non-factor at just 2% of all pitches.
He'll face 31-year-old Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma (3.16 ERA, 4.35 FIP in 2012), making his first spring start in his second MLB season. Iwakuma split 2012 between the rotation and bullpen for the M's, making 16 starts and 14 bullpen appearances en route to 125.1 innings and a pair of saves. His best work came as a starter, where he posted a 2.65 ERA after July 2.
Iwakuma throws a ~90 mph fastball but the real pitch to watch for is his splitter, which he throws around 23% of the time. FanGraphs rated that pitch as 2.2 runs above average per 100 in 2012. Iwakuma also relies heavily on a slider and throws an occasional curve.
Iwakuma has, of course, never faced the Brewers.
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Today is another beautiful day for baseball in Arizona with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 60's with light winds.
Enjoy the game!