The Brewers opened up the spring with a nice win, but can they keep the momentum going today?
Today at 2:05 they'll face 24-year-old lefty Madison Bumgarner (2.77 ERA, 3.05 FIP in 2013) in his first start of the Cactus League season. Despite being about two months younger than Wily Peralta, Bumgarner has already pitched in five MLB seasons and has been named the Giants' Opening Day starter (over Matt Cain) in 2014.
It's tough to tell what kind of arsenal a pitcher will bring to the mound in his first spring start, but during the regular season Bumgarner is one of baseball's heaviest slider users. He throws the pitch about 38% of the time, only slightly less than he throws his low-90's fastball. Throwing a slider this often at a young age probably doesn't bode well for his long-term health, but he's thrown over 200 innings in each of the last three seasons.
The Brewers beat Bumgarner on August 7 of last season, plating four runs (three earned) on five hits over seven innings against him. Four current Brewers have faced him ten times or more:
He'll face Yovani Gallardo (4.18 ERA, 3.89 FIP), who turned 28 yesterday and has something to prove in 2014 following his worst MLB season. Gallardo posted an ERA over 4 for the first time in 2013 and has likely been bumped from the "ace" role in the Brewers rotation by Kyle Lohse. He's also entering the last year of his contract, although the Brewers hold a team option for 2015.
It's too early in the spring to get too worried about it today, but Gallardo's velocity is likely to draw a lot of attention over the coming month. His average fastball speed has dropped from 92.7 in 2011 to 91.8 in 2012 and 90.7 in 2013, and that's been widely claimed as a factor in his somewhat diminished effectiveness. His strikeout numbers also dropped dramatically in 2013: After four consecutive seasons recording more than 200, he had just 144.
Gallardo beat the Giants on April 18 of last season, holding them to a single run on five hits over six innings with six strikeouts. Four current Giants have faced him ten times or more:
As of this writing today's lineup has not been posted. If you've seen it, please drop it in the comments.
The weather in Arizona could be a factor in tomorrow's games, but today everything looks good. Expect a game-time temperature around 73 in Scottsdale with light winds blowing out to left field.