Good afternoon, Brewers fans. and welcome to one of the best days of the year.
Today at 2:05 your Milwaukee Brewers take the field for the first time this spring when they send Marco Estrada (3.87 ERA, 3.86 FIP in 2013) to the mound to take on the A's at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Estrada is likely to win a spot in the Opening Day rotation after a hot finish to the 2013 season, where he posted a 2.15 ERA over nine starts in August and September after coming off the DL.
Getting off to a strong start is something Estrada has struggled with throughout his MLB career. Through six MLB seasons he has a career 5.05 ERA before the All Star Break and a 3.35 mark after. That can be at least partially attributed to the fact that he's allowed a career 1.7 home runs per nine innings in first halves. Estrada's velocity was down a bit in 2013 but his fastball still sat around 90 with a pretty heavy emphasis on his changeup and curve.
Estrada did face the A's once during the regular season in 2013 and was roughed up, allowing five runs on nine hits over just four innings on June 3 in his final start before going on the DL. No current A's have faced him ten times or more.
Estrada will likely pitch a maximum of two innings in his first outing of the spring today. He's expected to be followed to the mound by Wily Peralta, Zach Duke, Will Smith, Rob Wooten and Donovan Hand.
He's expected to face lefty Tommy Milone (4.14 ERA, 4.30 FIP in 2013), who is opening his third season as a member of the A's. Milone made 28 appearances (26 starts) for Oakland a year ago but did not appear in a postseason game. He's 27 years old and joined the A's in the December 2011 Gio Gonzalez trade.
Milone has experienced some success in the majors despite having a fastball that sits around 87, and managed to strike out over seven batters per nine innings for the first time in 2013. He typically keeps his walk rate down (1.9 per nine innings for his career) but is prone to home runs, allowing 1.4 per nine innings last season. He relies heavily on a changeup (almost 30% of all pitches) and also throws a curve and cutter.
Milone also faced the Brewers on June 3 of last season, picking up the win by holding the Crew to two runs on five hits over seven innings with no walks and four strikeouts. No current Brewers have faced him ten times or more, although Rickie Weeks has homered off of him.
As of this writing the Brewers (8:24 am) had not posted their lineup for today. If you've seen it, please drop it in the comments.
The weather, as you might expect, is beautiful for the first contest of the spring. Expect a game-time temperature around 74 to climb into the upper 70s as the afternoon goes along, with winds blowing out at less than 10 mph.
Enjoy the game!