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Spring Training Game Preview and Thread #-6: Brewers (11-14) @ Reds (12-13)

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A chance to even things up with a division rival on the spring.

The Brewers have just four games left in Arizona before heading north to open Miller Park. Two of them are in Maryvale but the other two, including today's contest, are at the Reds and Indians' shared complex in Goodyear.

Today at 3:05 they'll face their division rival Reds with Mike Leake (3.00 ERA this spring, 3.37/4.04 ERA/FIP in 2013) on the mound. Leake is making his fourth start of the spring and his first since Monday, when he held the Indians to a run on three hits over four innings with no walks and six strikeouts.

Strikeouts aren't typically a big part of Leake's game: He's averaged less than six K/9 for his career and posted more than six in a game just twice last season. That's a big part of the reason his FIP was significantly higher than his ERA last season. He throws a fastball around 90 but works in a lot of cutters to go with his curve and changeup.

Leake faced the Brewers twice last season and had mixed results: He pitched 8.1 innings in a start in July and allowed two runs on four hits, but lasted just five innings in a game in August and allowed four runs on nine hits. Four current Brewers have faced him ten times or more, but one of them is currently in roster limbo:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Aramis Ramirez 25 24 3 1 0 0 0 1 4 .125 .160 .167 .327
Jonathan Lucroy 15 13 3 0 0 0 1 2 2 .231 .333 .231 .564
Rickie Weeks 12 12 5 1 1 2 3 0 2 .417 .417 1.167 1.583
Juan Francisco 10 10 2 0 0 2 2 0 1 .200 .200 .800 1.000
Total 112 101 23 4 2 5 11 8 13 .228 .288 .455 .744
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/23/2014.

He'll face Matt Garza (19.06 ERA this spring, 3.82/3.88 ERA/FIP in 2013) in a start where anything could happen. Garza pitched in a minor league game his last time out and last appeared in a Cactus League game against the Angels on March 12, where he allowed ten runs (six earned) on nine hits in just 1.2 innings.

For what it's worth, Garza's poor springs do appear to be a career trend. He's posted an ERA of 5.50 or more in four of the last five seasons, including a 10.38 mark in his first season with the Cubs in 2011. He went on to make 31 starts that season, post a 3.32 ERA and strike out nine batters per nine innings, the best mark of his career.

Garza faced the Reds twice last season and struggled, allowing 13 runs on 13 hits and six walks over just nine innings. Four current Reds have faced him ten times or more:

PA AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Brandon Phillips 18 15 4 1 0 0 1 3 2 .267 .389 .333 .722
Joey Votto 18 16 5 0 0 1 3 2 3 .313 .389 .500 .889
Jay Bruce 17 16 6 2 0 2 6 1 5 .375 .412 .875 1.287
Skip Schumaker 14 12 6 1 0 0 0 1 0 .500 .538 .583 1.122
Total 104 91 29 6 0 5 17 10 22 .319 .398 .549 .948
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/23/2014.

Mike Vassallo has today's lineup:

As usual, it's cold in Wisconsin and warm in Arizona.