The Brewers hit the road today to visit Surprise(!), where they'll face Alexi Ogando (5.68 ERA this spring, 3.27/3.73 ERA/FIP in 2012) and the Rangers. He's making his fourth appearance and second start of the spring and pitched in relief on Wednesday, allowing a run on two hits over three innings against the Cubs. He walked two and struck out six in that outing.
Ogando is a veteran of three major league seasons split between the starting rotation and bullpen: He made 29 starts for Texas in 2011 but 57 of his 58 appearances in 2012 came in relief. He was an All Star in 2011 but his numbers actually improved in more limited duty a year ago, as he allowed just 6.7 hits per nine innings and recorded 66 strikeouts over 66 innings.
If you haven't seen Ogando pitch before, get ready for heat and a lot of sliders. His fastball can reach the upper 90's, and the slider (thrown 35% of the time a year ago) is his only real secondary pitch.
He'll face Mark Rogers (3.86 ERA this spring, 3.92/3.81 ERA/FIP in 2012), whose ERA really doesn't tell the story from what's been a rough spring to this point. Rogers has made two official starts and walked six batters without a strikeout over 4.2 innings, but those numbers don't reflect another outing where he had to leave early in a start against the Italian WBC team. His best outing of the spring came against the Diamondbacks on Thursday, where he allowed two unearned runs on three hits over three innings with three walks.
Rogers has excellent stuff when he's on, but his control has been a persistent issue over the years. He's walked 5.7 batters per nine innings over 520+ minor league innings, including 4.6 for Nashville a year ago. If he can't improve on his strike-throwing this spring he's going to make the Brewers make a tough decision: It'd be tough to rely on him in the bullpen or rotation at this point but he's also out of options.
None of Rogers' 11 career major league appearances have been against the Rangers.
Here's today's spring training road game lineup:
The temperatures are starting to heat up a bit in Phoenix, and should rise into the low 80's during the game today.
Enjoy the game!