With the Brewers’ opening their Cactus League this coming Thursday, no doubt skipper Ken Macha and pitching coach Rick Peterson have already start about which pitchers–particularly starting pitchers–they want to see in game action right away.
If they only consider aligning the starters now so that they pitch every 5th day en route to the regular season, then starter #4 would get the nod against the Giants next Thursday…this would narrow the choices down to Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan, and Manny Parra.
If they are worried about changing arm motion in hopes of getting improved performance, Bush, Suppan, and Parra would also have to be on the list; if they want to learn what their new acquisitions are like in game conditions, then Randy Wolf and Doug Davis would get the nod. Of course, they still have the option to cut both Dave Bush and Carlos Villanueva in March and avoiding a chunk of their salary, so giving them the 1-2 spots on the 4th, 9th, and 14th would give them a chance to see if they’ve improved and either deal them or cut them before the 17th.
They could also worry some about older players such as Jeff Suppan (35), Randy Wolf (33), and Doug Davis (34) wearing down as the season progresses, and want to limit their starts in Arizona. They may also want to get Manny Parra in a groove right away.
Of course, with split squads, rainouts, and an off day on March 24th, it isn’t as important to align the rotation now as it will be after that date.
Personally, I’d probably give Gallardo the nod for the first game, just to give Rick Peterson and new catcher Gregg Zaun an early look at the young starter; then I’d come back with Bush on the 5th against the A’s and Ben Sheets, and Suppan and Wolf on Saturday in the split squads.
My gut, however, tells me that they will probably want to show off their new million-dollar arm, Randy Wolf, first…but they may want to save him for the first home game on Saturday.
I’ll be curious if Macha and Peterson provide a reason for their early Cactus League rotation…of if they just decided to draw straws.