Today, two teams headed in opposite directions collide in Maryvale. The Brewers are undefeated on their current Cactus League homestand, having beaten the A's and Rockies to get back above .500 on the spring. The Padres have Arizona's worst record at 2-6.
The Brewers will try to keep their momentum going today by sending Matt Garza (36.00 ERA this spring, 3.82/3.88 ERA/FIP in 2013) to the mound. Garza had a Brewer debut to forget on Sunday, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks in just one inning of work against the Rockies.
After the start Garza told reporters he did not throw his slider, his signature pitch. FanGraphs estimates the pitch was worth +1.42 runs per 100 times thrown in 2013, making it his only above average offering. It's normal for veteran pitchers to work with a limited arsenal early in spring and expand it as they get closer to Opening Day.
Garza did not face the Padres in 2013 and has seen them just three times in the regular season in his career. Two current San Diego batters have faced him ten times or more:
He'll face 20-year-old right hander Joe Ross (3.00 ERA this spring, did not pitch in majors in 2013), who is making his first start in his third Cactus League appearance. Ross was the Padres' first round pick in the 2011 draft and spent 2013 in the Low-A Midwest League with Fort Wayne, where he psoted a 3.75 ERA over 23 starts. He pitched in relief against the Giants on Monday and worked two scoreless innings.
John Sickels of Minor League Ball hasn't released his list of the Padres' top prospects for 2014, but listed Ross as a B- prospect in his 2013 book. Here's an excerpt from the book on Ross' stuff:
When he's right, Ross throws a 93-96 MPH fastball with outstanding movement. He also has a very good slider, but his changeup is erratic. At times his command is good, but he's not consistent about that and is still more thrower than pitcher.
Obviously Ross has never faced the Brewers in the majors. He also did not see the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers while pitching in the Midwest League last season.
John Steinmiller has today's Brewer lineup:
Action on @fswisconsin "@Brewers: The #CactusCrew rolls out this lineup today against the Padres at 2:05 pm CT. pic.twitter.com/cDF47dD7sO"— John H. Steinmiller (@jstein1981) March 7, 2014
In addition to Garza, Johnny Hellweg and Brandon Kintzler are expected to pitch today.
It's been a great week for baseball in Phoenix and that continues today. Expect a game-time temperature around 76 to climb into the 80s as the afternoon goes along, with no chance of rain and light winds blowing out to right.