The new-look Milwaukee Brewers start the season against last year’s division champion Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ball Park.
Milwaukee Brewers at Cincinnati Reds
Milwaukee enters the 2011 season with high aspirations due to offseason moves that caused many MLB experts to pick them to win the NL Central division this year. Unfortunately, the squad will be opening the season with some key players on the disabled list, including starting pitcher Zack Greinke. “We can pull it together and I think we have the last couple days,” said manager Ron Roenicke. “I don’t think all the distractions have thrown us off that much.” The Brewers will turn to another right-handed starter to kick off the season, as Yovani Gallardo draws the Opening Day assignment. The club broke camp with four starters and eight relievers because they don’t need a fifth until April 6. Milwaukee is 77-86 on the road the past two years.
Gallardo finished last season with a solid 14-7 record and 3.84 ERA in 31 starts, while compiling 200-plus strikeouts for the second consecutive year. In making 11 daytime starts in 2010, he managed to go 3-5 with a 4.24 ERA, allowing opposing hitters to hit just .240 against him. The right-hander has been a fast starter during his major league career, posting a 5-3 mark and 2.67 ERA in 12 career starts during the first month of the season. He will be making his ninth career start versus the Reds Thursday, going 2-3 with a 5.56 ERA, while allowing 50 hits in 43.2 innings of work.
Cincinnati is set to play its 135th Opening Day game in franchise history, including the ninth at the Great American Ball Park. The Reds are 64-69-1 in home openers, but are 0-3 in Opening Day games played on March 31. The club has also lost three straight openers and are 3-9-1 in their last 13. Many of the players have already commented on the difference in weather that’s expected for today’s contest in comparison to what they left in Spring Training. “We came from like 90 degrees yesterday,” said starter Edinson Volquez. “We flew back last night and there’s snow today. It’s kind of different.” Manager Dusty Baker is 0-3 in Openers as Reds Manager and the club is 95-64 against divisional opponents the last two years.
Reds starting pitcher Edinson Volquez starts the season on the active roster after missing most of the 2010 season due to recovering from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander was 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 12 starts last season, going 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA in his last four starts of last year’s campaign. He has garnered a 3-1 record and 5.50 ERA in six career starts versus the Brewers, including a strong eight-inning performance on the road against them on September 21, 2010. Volquez will be making his 19th career daytime appearance and is looking to improve upon a 10-4 mark and 4.07 ERA under the sun.
Bettors are likely to back the Reds due to being 8-3 in Volquez’s last 11 starts, while the Brewers are 1-8 in Gallardo’s last nine starts as an underdog.