In about one hour, Yovani Gallardo is about to set a record for the Milwaukee Brewers: He will be the first pitcher to start five consecutive Opening Day games for the franchise.
In 2010, Gallardo suited up with players like Jim Edmonds, Gregg Zaun and Alcides Escobar. In 2011, Juan Nieves, Yuni Betancourt and Mark Kotsay joined him on the field. In 2012, Mat Gamel and Alex Gonzalez were also Opening Day Starters. Last year, Gallardo tied Ben Sheets with his fourth consecutive Opening Day start.
(Trigger warning: For kicks, go back and look at the Opening Day lineups Ben Sheets had to work with from 2002-2004. Jinkies.)
Gallardo didn't have the best of seasons in 2013. He was arrested for driving under the influence early in the season, then went on to have statistically his worst season of his career, posting a 4.18 ERA and 1.36 WHIP, pitching 180⅔ innings (his lowest since 2008). He also struck out a career-low 7.2 batters per nine innings. To top it all off, he was dealing with the loss of his mother, who passed way too early after a battle with cancer.
Now, with more time removed from his personal battles of 2013, he hopes to come out strong with a comeback season. The 2014 campaign could be a contract year for Gallardo -- the Brewers hold a $13 million team option on him for 2015. His struggles last year may not have been solely due to emotional turmoils and stress: His fastball velocity dropping to 90.7 MPH from a high of 92.6 indicates their may be some physical issues as well.
Regardless, Gallardo pitched well in spring until a two-inning disaster start in his final tune-up. He's never been a true ace, but the Brewers will need him to pitch better than ever if they hope to make the playoffs.
For the Braves, Julio Teheran is highly thought-of enough to earn a six-year, $32.4 million deal as just a 23 year old. Once the top pitching prospect in the game and ranked the fifth-best prospect nationwide in both 2011 and 2012 by Baseball America, Teheran showed why with a sterling season in 2013.
After a dreadful 2012 season that saw him pitch two poor games in the majors and post a 5.08 ERA in Triple-A, Teheran came back as a full-time starter for the Braves and made 30 starts with a 3.20 ERA. He also had a 177:45 K:BB ratio. Teheran did show himself to be a bit of a flyball pitcher last year, which may not help him in Miller Park, but he managed to keep his home run numbers within reason.
Though he is still young, Teheran is now expected to carry the Braves' starting staff as their ace. Injuries have destroyed the team's rotation as both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy need Tommy John surgery. Mike Minor will miss the first couple weeks as well due to shoulder soreness. The Braves did get Ervin Santana on what may be a steal of a deal, but he'll also miss the first week or so.
After Teheran and Santana, Atlanta is working with RP/SP Alex Wood, free agent signing Aaron Harang, and David Hale. Seriously. Aaron Harang is their fourth starter. Heh.
The Brewers lineup was released earlier today. For reference, here is the Brewers full 25-man roster to start the year:
Starting pitchers: Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta
Relief pitchers: Jim Henderson, Brandon Kintzler, Francisco Rodriguez Tyler Thornburg, Duke, Will Smith Wei-Chung Wang.
Catchers: Jonathan Lucroy, Martin Maldonado
Infielders: Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds, Scooter Gennett, Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez, Jean Segura, Jeff Bianchi
Outfielders: Khris Davis, Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun, Logan Schafer