Spring Training Game Preview and Threads #-29 and #-28: Brewers (1-1) v Dodgers (2-1), @ Diamondbacks (2-2)

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Weather permitting, we've got double-barreled action on tap today.

I hear it's still cold and snowing in Milwaukee, so I'd assume fans in Arizona won't get much sympathy if they complain about today's weather in Phoenix. It's already rained here for the first time since December, and that could impact today's planned split-squad doubleheader.

Assuming they do play today, the Brewers are projected to open their Cactus League home schedule at Maryvale at 2:05 with Kyle Lohse (3.35 ERA, 4.08 FIP in 2013) on the mound for the first time this spring. Lohse is probably the most likely candidate to serve as the Brewers' Opening Day starter despite the fact that he wasn't on this team a year ago at this time.

Lohse officially signed with the Brewers on March 25 of last year, had an abbreviated spring training (although he had, of course, been working out on his own) and ran into a bit of a wall in May and June, posting a 6.15 ERA over six starts and missing some time with elbow issues. It'll be interesting to see if having a full camp to prepare changes his outlook for the early portions of 2014.

Lohse faced the Dodgers on April 28 of last season, allowing two runs on five hits over seven innings but picking up the tough-luck loss in a 2-0 Dodgers win. Six Dodgers have faced him ten times or more:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Hanley Ramirez 27 24 7 3 1 1 5 3 4 .292 .370 .625 .995
Adrian Gonzalez 26 24 8 4 0 1 3 2 1 .333 .385 .625 1.010
Andre Ethier 23 20 6 1 0 0 2 2 2 .300 .348 .350 .698
Juan Uribe 22 21 4 0 0 0 1 0 4 .190 .227 .190 .418
Matt Kemp 20 20 4 1 0 1 5 0 7 .200 .200 .400 .600
Carl Crawford 16 16 3 0 0 2 2 0 1 .188 .188 .563 .750
Total 158 148 35 10 1 5 19 7 28 .236 .274 .419 .693
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/1/2014.

He's scheduled to face 11-year MLB veteran Dan Haren (4.67 ERA, 4.09 FIP) in his Dodgers Cactus League debut. Haren was a member of the Cardinals, A's, Diamondbacks and Angels before joining the Nationals last year and making 31 appearances (30 starts). There were questions about his health heading into the season and he made a brief stop on the DL with shoulder weakness, but finished strong with a 3.29 ERA from July-September.

It's hard to tell what Haren will throw in a spring training environment, but during the regular season in 2013 over 55% of his pitches were either cutters or split finger pitches. His fastball sits in the upper 80's and, according to FanGraphs, was actually his best pitch a year ago.

Haren shut out the Brewers for seven innings on August 3 of last year, holding them to four hits and two walks while striking out six. Aramis Ramirez is the only Brewer who's faced him ten times or more, and has a career .300/.364/.400 line against him in eleven PAs.

Assuming that game is played today, it'll be seen live on FS Wisconsin. Since I'm assuming that's the game most of you will be watching, I'll stick to bullet points for the road game against the Diamondbacks:

For the Brewers:

  • Mike Fiers was originally scheduled to start this game, but when the threat of rain came up the Brewers announced he was going to pitch in an intrasquad game yesterday.
  • Fiers made just eleven appearances (three starts) for the Brewers a year ago before being sent back to AAA and having his season end when he was hit by a comebacker.
  • He faced the Diamondbacks in his first start last season, allowing six runs on nine hits over five innings on April 6. No current D-Backs have faced him ten times or more.

For the Diamondbacks:

  • Trevor Cahill (3.99 ERA, 4.26 FIP) is scheduled to spend his 26th birthday taking the mound for Arizona today. This is the start of his sixth MLB season, and he'll be looking to bounce back from a 2013 season where he missed over a month with a hip contusion.
  • Cahill throws up upper-80's fastball with a pretty even distribution of sliders, changeups and curves. FanGraphs and Pitchf/x both agree that the changeup was his best pitch last season.
  • He's never faced the Brewers in a regular season game.

As of this writing the lineups for both games had not yet been posted. If you've seen them, please drop them in the comments.

The weather is the X-factor today, as scattered storms are moving across Arizona. Scattered showers could interrupt today's contests or lead to cancellations if the teams don't want to play on wet fields this early in the spring. Assuming the teams do play, look for game-time temperatures in the mid-60's with relatively light winds.

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