After two games and three days off, Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun is back in the lineup for Friday night's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Braun, of course, has been sidelined since the middle of the very first game of the season when he left with a strained muscle in his side. It didn't seem very severe, however, and my best guess is he would have played if either he had a more healthy recent-history or if it were later in the season. So early in the year, the Brewers are definitely more likely to play it safe with Braun than to take any risk of him sustaining a worse injury.
Despite Braun's return, Khris Davis remains in the five spot of the order with Adam Lind being bumped back to sixth. Lind had been batting third with Braun out. The change certainly isn't a performance based thing: Lind has been hitting extremely well this season. Meanwhile, Davis still awaits his first extra-base hit of the year.
Mike Fiers gets his first start of the season as he looks to prove to everyone that 2014 and most of 2012 weren't a fluke. He was the best pitcher on the Brewers down the stretch -- and might have even been their best player during the collapse. In 71 innings pitched last year, he had a 2.13 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP, a 9.5 K/9 and a 2.1 BB/9. Ridiculously good numbers, despite him not having exceptional velocity or 'stuff' or whatever you want to call it. The cliche would be to say Fiers 'just knows how to pitch' and, really, that's apparently pretty true. Milwaukee needs him to prove that he can continue with that success.
The Brewers will get their first test against a left-handed pitcher this season as the Pirates start Jeff Locke. We've talked plenty this past off-season about Adam Lind and Scooter Gennett's struggles against lefties in their careers, but Ron Roenicke is definitely giving them a chance to succeed before looking at platoon options.