It’s kind of hard to look at an opening week with opponents like the Braves and Red Sox as anything but bad luck. Indeed, when I saw the first week of the schedule I groaned. I won’t tell you what I said when I saw the schedule over the first two months. But things can change and they did. The Braves ran into a little bad luck of their own. A lot of bad luck actually. Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy are both out for the season. Mike Minor and Ervin Santana are both behind schedule and won’t pitch in the opening series. And maybe worst of all the Braves were forced to sign Aaron Harang. You never wish injuries (or Aaron Harang) on anyone and this isn’t an article indulging in schadenfreude. But, the reality of the situation is the Braves bad luck is the Brewers good fortune.
Instead of facing the likes of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy the Brewers will face Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, and Aaron Harang. I mean, really I could have just mentioned we’re facing Harang and ended the article there. It’s still not going to be a cakewalk though. The first game is going to be the toughest match-up. Teheran is a strikeout pitcher who doesn’t give out a lot free passes or home runs. He’ll face Yovani Gallardo who doesn't have my confidence just yet. I like Gallardo and I think he can still be good. I just need to see it before I believe it. The Braves did have the third highest strike out rate last year, so perhaps that will help.
The second game of the series is the one I’m really excited about. Lefty Alex Wood will face the Brewers top pitcher Kyle Lohse. Wood is good, but the Brewers best players are right-handed hitters who can mash lefties. As far as run potential and run prevention, this looks like the best match-up for the Brewers on paper.
Last up is Aaron Harang and Matt Garza. I like this match up too. Aaron Harang is not a very good pitcher. He wouldn’t be on the team if it weren’t for all the injuries. If he pitches like he did last year, the Brewers might end up spending a lot of money on fireworks that day. This time Brian McCann won't be there to stop anyone from crossing home plate. I’m looking forward to seeing Garza pitch. I'm confident that his effectiveness will be there as long as he can stay healthy, which shouldn't be a concern in his first start. He should also be helped by the Braves’ strikeout tendencies.
I was hoping to include the Red Sox series as part of the Brewers’ lucky break, but things could have worked out better. Unfortunately they will miss lefty Felix Doubront. And instead of facing Boston’s number 4, 5, and 1 pitchers, the Brewers will (tentatively) face Boston’s 3, 4, and 1 pitchers. That would be Jake Peavy, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. The Brewers have said they’ll send Marco Estrada, Wily Peralta, and Yovani Gallardo to pitch for them. They have the opportunity to skip their fifth starter but have chosen not to. I’m not sure if that is a wise decision. It’s not that I don’t like Peralta. I do, quite a lot actually. I just think Estrada, Gallardo, and Lohse would give them a better shot at winning the most games. Maybe I’m just over-thinking it. I like the Brewers' rotation and even though it has some blemishes, it's not like they can't win with it.
If the Brewers are to make the post season everything is going to have to go right for them. You’ve heard that all winter. I know I've said it a lot. I absolutely believe it's possible for that to happen. At least against the Braves and at least on paper, things look like they’re starting out right. There was a time when I thought the Brewers would be happy to walk out of that first week with a 2-4 record. Now a 3-3 record seems pretty realistic and better is possible. I know a .500 record isn’t an exciting prospect, but these are two elite teams we’re talking about. The first two months are going to be the toughest of the season. So picking up even one game that they were supposed to lose will be big. I’m going to feel pretty good if that’s what happens.