San Francisco Giants at Milwaukee Brewers
The Giants are coming to town ready to start their World Series Championship run. They have won the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014 and are determined to keep that “even year” trend going in 2016. They made some moves that should help them in their efforts.
The Giants dealt with the injury bug in 2015, so they are happy to have Hunter Pence, Matt Cain, and Jake Peavy healthy to start the season. In addition to those players, the Giants signed Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Denard Span. Cueto and Samardzija are joining a pitching staff that includes Peavy, Cain, and their ace, Madison Bumgarner. That is one of the best starting rotations from top to bottom in all of baseball.
Veteran catcher Buster Posey is the leader of this team. He handles the pitching staff and holds down the cleanup spot in the Giants’ batting order. Posey led the Giants with a 6.1 WAR last season. He is the heart and soul of this Giants team.
Peralta is making his first Opening Day start for the Brewers. The Brewers are in full rebuild mode, with just three starters from last season’s Opening Day on this season’s roster. Gone are Carlos Gomez, Aramis Ramirez, Adam Lind, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Kyle Lohse, Gerardo Parra, Mike Fiers, Jonathan Broxton, and Francisco Rodriguez.
The Brewers also had a change in management. Craig Counsell replaced Ron Roenicke as the Brewer manager after a horrific start to the season, and Doug Melvin stepped down as the general manager and was replace by David Stearns.
The Brewers picked up some veterans, trading for third baseman Aaron Hill and shortstop Jonathan Villar and signing first baseman Chris Carter. These players are most likely just place holders for the youth movement in Milwaukee. Shortstop Orlando Arcia will likely join the big league club at some point this season, and infielder Yadiel Rivera is already in Milwaukee as a utility infielder.
In the outfield, Ryan Braun is moving back to left field and youngster Domingo Santana (acquired in the Gomez trade) takes over in right. Center field is the biggest question mark coming into the season. Kirk Nieuwenhuis (signed off of waivers from the Mets), Ramon Flores (acquired in a trade from the Mariners), and Keon Broxton (acquired in a trade from the Pirates) are all young players making a case to be the starting center fielder.
Peralta, Nelson, and Garza are all coming off of double-digit losses in 2015 and are hoping for a better 2016. Garza left his last Spring Training game with shoulder stiffness, but he is expected to to make his start against the Giants. In the bullpen, Counsell was originally going to go with Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress as co-closers, but Smith tore his LCL while taking off his shoe and will be out for an extended period of time.
The Giants are coming in with three solid pitchers, whereas the Brewers are countering with three pitchers that had tough years last season. The Giants are also healthy to start the season. The Brewers are rebuilding, but they should be tougher to play than some of the experts think. Still, it will be difficult to beat the Giants rotation.
I think the Brewers will take one of the three games and open the season with a 1-2 record.