It probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who watched last season or was doing the math on who was on schedule to start, but Opening Day will officially be a Junior Guerra Day this year.
With the way the rotation has been falling this spring, Guerra has been on track to make the start for awhile now, but the Brewers haven't made the official announcement until today.
The announcement comes after Guerra was named the team's Pitcher of the Year in 2016, and three years after Guerra was pitching in Europe, just trying to hang on as a professional.
Guerra will be the fourth different Brewers’ Opening Day starter in four years, following Wily Peralta, Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo.
Guerra went from a nondescript waiver claim from the White Sox to the Brewers' ace as a 31-year-old rookie in 2016, making 20 starts and putting up a 2.81 ERA. While his FIP (3.75) and DRA (3.87) were about a run higher, Guerra still found a great deal of success thanks to his use of a splitter, which opponents consistently chased or beat into the ground.
There weren't many other options to start on Opening Day on the projected roster (maybe Zach Davies, if you wanted to stretch to make an argument), but that shouldn't take anything away from the honor for Guerra. Even if you're not one to buy into the symbolic gesture, it's still been a remarkable few years for him, and the Brewers are rewarding him for it. Those little things get noticed by other players.
The Colorado Rockies haven't announced who will be starting opposite of Guerra yet, but it's probably a safe bet Jon Gray will pitch the bottom of the first inning on April 3rd.
Statistics courtesy Baseball Prospectus