After four straight losses, maybe the Brewers just need a change of scenery.
Today the team is in Surprise(!), where they'll face Luke Hochevar (5.73 ERA, 4.63 FIP in 2012) and the Royals. Hochevar, who was the #1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, is coming off a dreadful 2012 season where he led all major league pitchers with 118 earned runs allowed and posted a 5.73 ERA. His peripherals suggest he wasn't actually that bad, though, as his strikeouts per nine innings actually went up from 5.8 to 7.0 and his walk rate only rose slightly from 2.8 to three per nine.
Hochevar throws a low-to-mid 90's fastball and a wide assortment of other pitches, including a curve (20% of all pitches), slider (10%), cutter (10%) and changeup (5.5%). The slider has historically been his best pitch statistically, although FanGraphs says his cutter was better a year ago.
The Brewers faced Hochevar one time last season and he pitched a quality start, allowing three runs on six hits over 7.1 innings. Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Braun both homered in that game.
He'll face Chris Narveson (7.00 ERA, 6.21 FIP in 2012), who is appearing in a game for the first time since last April. Narveson has been out for most of a year with major shoulder surgery and pitched just nine innings in 2011.
The Brewers have taken it slow with Narveson this spring because of last season's injury, so it'll be interesting to see how they handle him today. If he's healthy he's probably a safe bet to make the Opening Day rotation, but he's never pitched more than 167.2 innings in a season.
Narveson also has quite the track record with Jonathan Lucroy: Luc has caught 44 of Narveson's career 95 appearances, representing 241.1 of his 394.2 innings. The two of them have an even 5.00 ERA while working together.
Narveson has never faced the Royals in a regular season game.
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It should be another beautiful day for baseball in Arizona today, with temperatures in the mid 60's and light winds.
Enjoy the game!