Jun 29, 2014; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario (20) scores after a throwing error by Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (20) in the fifth inning at Miller Park. The Rockies scored 3 runs on the play after 2 Brewer errors. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
It’s Opening Day! Hope springs eternal! Maybe we’ll win some games! Let’s preview the Rockies’ opening series in Milwaukee, April 6, 7, and 8.
DATES, TIMES, AND PITCHERS
Monday, April 6, 12:10 pm, Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 0.00) vs. Kyle Lohse (0-0, 0.00)
Tuesday, April 7, 6:10 pm, Jordan Lyles (0-0, 0.00) vs. Matt Garza (0-0, 0.00)
Wednesday, April 8, 6:10 pm, Eddie Butler (0-0, 0.00) vs. Wily Peralta (0-0, 0.00)
KEYS FOR THE ROCKIES
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I don’t want to beat a dead horse by saying this all year, but, HEALTH.
Healthy players are productive players, especially in this lineup, with guys like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, who have trouble staying on the field, and Justin Morneau and Nolan Arenado, who missed time last year and hurt the club.
That health extends to the pitching staff, too.
If Eddie Butler can prove himself healthy to throw well Wednesday, and Kyle Kendrick and Jordan Lyles can go deep enough and keep the Rockies in games on Monday and Tuesday, the club can get started on the right foot. Then, as they transition into the five-man rotation in mid-April, they won’t be decimated by injuries too early. I hope.
The Rockies won a mere 21 games on the road last season, and that absolutely cannot happen again if the team hopes to be even just a few games better than they were in 2014.
Their quest for road success (or, at least, not road irrelevance) begins Monday afternoon in Milwaukee, and depending on how these three games go, Rockies fans might be able to tell immediately how long of a season this will be.
LET’S MEET THE BREWERS
You can follow him @schwick26_pete.
The Brewers spent 150 days in first place in the NL Central last year until they faded down the stretch. Do you see them as 2015 contenders looking to finish the job they started last year, or are they also-rans looking to build for the long run?
I see them fully as the team that is looking to contend. Many Brewers fans have been upset that this offseason was not one filled with big moves, but this team is ready to contend again. I really like the rotation, especially at the back end with Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson as their fourth and fifth starters.
Last year at the end the team collapsed as they failed to drive in runs with runners in scoring position, and this season I don’t see that happening. Braun was hurt all season and it was evident throughout the final months. I think with a strong young core this team is ready to compete now and with a system that is many than better give them credit for they will be players in the division for the long-term too.
Like Tulo and CarGo for the Rox, Ryan Braun’s health has been a concern for Milwaukee. How’s his thumb (and general health) going into Opening Day, and what do you expect from him this year?
Braun has declared himself healthy this spring and it has showed. While he was 0-13 to start he has been on fire as of late and has continually stated that he is pain free. Last year watching him he looked like a pull-hitting left hander instead of his former MVP-self.
His teammates have stated that he looks just as good as he did in 2012 and it would be awesome to see him return to that form. I’m looking for a season where he hits .300 with 25 homers and 85-95 RBIs. If he plays at that level they will stay in the race all year.
Adam Lind is a newcomer at first base, after not having a consistent first baseman for some time. Should the Rockies be worried about his bat in the lineup this series?
First base has been a trainwreck since Fielder departed and the addition of Lind should help to finally bring some stability. He is not the sexy name that many have hoped for, but he will have a much bigger impact that Mark Reynolds (who batted .196) had last season.
He missed some time with a back injury this spring, but has been on fire since. He looks to hit fifth in the lineup and will definitely be a bat to watch out for.
Marco Estrada and Yovani Gallardo are both gone this year; it looks like the Brewers will start Kyle Lohse, Matt Garza, and Wily Peralta in the three games against the Rockies. What should we know about those three arms?
While other former Cardinals have struggled coming over to Milwaukee (Jeff Suppan and Braden Looper) Lohse has been outstanding. Though he wasn’t the ace of the staff on paper last year, he has been the leader of this rotation for a long time. Taking the mound on opening day in a contract year, I expect big things from Lohse.
Although he signed the biggest pitching contract in franchise histroy, Garza is the one pitcher in Milwaukee that is rarely talked about. After scuffling at the start of 2014, he was able to finish the year strong. A fast start will be key for him this season.
Peralta is a pitcher who is ready to take the next step. As a rookie in 2013, he wore his emotions on his sleeve and struggled when things didn’t go his way. Last season he stepped up and improved in a big way. This season I see him taking over as the teams ace. He has had a strong spring and is starting to become more of a pitcher than simply a hard throw. Of all of the Brewers pitchers he has the most all-star and Cy Young type potential.
Francisco Rodriguez was a huge carry over for the club after he re-signed this offseason. How do you see the 33-year old’s season playing out?
K-Rod is a huge question mark in Milwaukee. While the bullpen will be stronger with his veteran presence, I would have rather seen them play it out with Jonathan Broxton or Corey Knebel (a minor league closer who was acquired in the Yovani Gallardo deal).
Last season although he saved 44 games, he allowed 14 home runs and is still know for 20-minutes of terror each time he comes out. He will open the season as closer, but if struggles like he did at the end of last season I don’t see him retaining the job for long.
Looking at the lineup, Jean Segura interests me. After a strong 2013 and a difficult 2014, which Segura will we see this year?
Segura is a great comeback candidate this season. Last year the guy when through a nighmare season off the field with the loss of his infant son and then on the field with regression from his all-star year. With a fresh start this year I look for him to bounce back to being a .270-.280 hitter with 30 stolen base potential.
This spring he has hit the ball well and started driving the ball to the opposite field again. He may never be the superstar type player he looked like in 2013, but he will be much better than that version he was in 2014.
Now, let’s have some fun with the NL Central rivalries: Joe Maddon, Yadier Molina and Brandon Phillips are stuck on a sinking ship. You can only save one. Who do you choose, and why?
While it’s a tough question. I’ve got to go with Joe Maddon on this one. I am not looking forward to the Cubs back at the top of the division, but Maddon would be worth keeping simply for his interviews. Listening to him talk is just crazy.
And finally, let’s talk mascots. General consensus among virtually everyone in Denver is that Dinger is the worst mascot in all of sports. Tell us a little bit about the Brewers’ mascot, and, would you be interested if we offered a few bats and a bag of baseballs for him in a trade?
From Bernie Brewer to the Racing Sausages to Hank the dog, we are loaded with mascots in Milwaukee. Bernie has his slide in left field that he goes down with each home run. While I am not a big mascot guy, my wife loves the choices, and finds Bernie to be a very overrated mascot. With so many other options that could take over in his place, we could probably work out some type of a deal for him.