We made it, everyone.
The winter that felt like it took forever because nobody in baseball seemed to do anything is finally over.
After winning the prestigious and elusive Cactus Cup, the Milwaukee Brewers begin their most anticipated regular season since 2011 in San Diego, which I believe is German for “Overpaid for Eric Hosmer.”
Trying to convince everyone they’re no longer tanking, the Padres actually come into this season with a payroll at $101 million -- the second-highest ever for the organization. The caveat is $20 million of that is being paid to players no longer on the team: Hector Olivera, James Shields and Jedd Gyorko, who the Padres are paying the Cardinals $2.5 million to hit home runs against the Brewers this year and $5 million next year.
Still, San Diego increased what they’re paying for their actual players by more than $36 million this winter. Most of that is going to Hosmer, who signed an 8-year, $144 million deal coming off a career year in which he hit 25 home runs and had an .882 OPS, which is 100 points higher than his career average.
It’s easy to poke fun at the Hosmer contract, but the Padres are at least trying to turn the corner in their rebuild, and figure Hosmer will still be a useful player when they’re ready to contend, so they just got him now - sort of like how the Cubs signed Jon Lester and you could argue the Brewers added Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain even if they may not be ready to take the next leap for another year.
The Padres also added Freddy Galvis and brought back Chase Headley. While neither player is anything special, they’re still good enough to represent improvements over last year’s team. They’re an organization that may be a year or two behind the Brewers in the rebuilding cycle, but they shouldn’t be taken lightly in the season’s first series.
Thursday - 3:10 p.m. CDT
Chase Anderson vs. Clayton Richard
Friday - 9:10 p.m. CDT
Jhoulys Chacin vs. TBA
Saturday - 7:40 p.m. CDT
Brent Suter vs. Luis Perdomo
Anderson and Richard are both making their first career Opening Day starts, and since Richard throws with his left hand, Ryan Braun will be starting at first base in the season’s first game.
San Diego had promising righty Dinelson Lamet scheduled to pitch the second game of the series, but they’re Lamet-ing his loss after he had to leave his final Spring Training start with elbow pain. He’s expected to be out until May after striking out 139 batters in 114.1 innings (a 10.9 K/9) in 21 starts in his rookie season. He struggled with walks (4.3 BB/9) which contributed to his ERA of 4.57, but the future was looking bright before he went down. To this point, they haven’t announced who’s taking the ball on Friday to replace Lamet yet.
Perdomo didn’t put up impressive numbers last year as a 24-year-old (4.67 ERA/4.40 FIP, 88 ERA+, 6.5 K/9 with a 3.6 BB/9), but he did have the Brewers’ number, holding them to just 5 runs over 12 innings in two starts and striking out 13 with just 2 walks. He struck out 9 of those batters in his start against the Brewers in San Diego, en route to a 6-5 Padres win on May 15th.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference