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Game Thread #1: Brewers (0-0) at Reds (0-0)

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Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Opening Day!


Current Series

3 game series vs Reds @ Great American Ball Park

Milwaukee Brewers
@ Cincinnati Reds

Thursday, Mar 31, 2011, 1:10 PM CDT
Great American Ball Park

Yovani Gallardo vs Edinson Volquez

Opening Day Frosty Mug
Series Preview #1: Talking Reds With Joel Luckhaupt of Red Reporter
Wednesday's Frosty Mug

Complete Coverage >

Sat 04/02 6:10 PM CDT
Sun 04/03 12:10 PM CDT

Follow the jump for today's pitching matchup, lineup and more!

He's not the guy many of us were hoping to see today, but Yovani Gallardo (3.84 ERA, 3.02 FIP) has to be considered one of the best "second choice" Opening Day starters in all of baseball. He's coming off an excellent spring, where he posted a 1.96 ERA and struck out 23 opposing batters in 18.1 IP, while walking five. And he's struck out more than 9.7 batters per nine innings in each of the last two seasons.

Gallardo has an above average, low 90's fastball, but relies pretty heavily on a curve and slider, which combined to comprise 37.9% of his 2010 pitches. All three of those pitches were above average last season but the slider was his best pitch at +0.84 runs per 100, according to FanGraphs.

Gallardo faced the Reds three times last season and the results were not pretty in two games:

Date IP H R ER BB K
May 17 6 2 1 1 1 12
July 27 2.2 10 6 5 1 3
August 31 5 9 8 8 3 6

Six current Reds have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Brandon Phillips 21 .412 .500 .706 1.206
Joey Votto 17 .375 .412 .563 .974
Jonny Gomez 11 .222 .364 .556 .919
Scott Rolen 11 .636 .636 1.091 1.727
Jay Bruce 10 .500 .600 .875 1.475
Ramon Hernandez 10 .125 .300 .250 .550

Gallardo will face Edinson Volquez (4.31 ERA, 4.00 FIP in 2010), who is looking to put a rough spring behind him. After missing large chunks of the 2009 and 2010 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery Volquez had visa issues this spring and was only able to pitch in three Cactus League games, posting an 8.38 ERA and walking 11 batters in 9.2 innings. One of Volquez's roughest outings came against the Brewers on March 20, when he allowed five runs on a hit and five walks in 2.1 innings.

Despite the brief spring, Volquez does appear to be stretched out: He pitched five innings against the Padres on Friday.

It's tough to get a good read on Volquez's arsenal since he's only pitched 62.2 major league innings since returning from surgery. Last season, though, his fastball velocity was back up in the mid 90's and he seemed much more likely to use his curveball (19.1% of pitches, compared to 10.3% for his career). He also has a very good changeup.

Volquez only made 12 starts last season but two were against the Brewers. The results were somewhat mixed:

Date IP H R ER BB K
July 27 3.2 6 4 4 4 3
September 21 8 3 1 1 4 6

Three Brewers have faced Volquez ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Ryan Braun 18 .333 .444 .400 .844
Prince Fielder 18 .143 .333 .357 .690
Craig Counsell 13 .333 .538 .333 .872

Rickie Weeks has also faced Volquez nine times and hit .571/.667/1.000.

Lineup:

Rickie Weeks 2B
Carlos Gomez CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Mark Kotsay RF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Wil Nieves C
Yovani Gallardo P

Weather:

It'll be cold today, but precipitation shouldn't be an issue. The Weather Channel is predicting temps in the low 40's throughout the game.

Enjoy the game!