A Look at the Milwaukee Brewers’ Pitchers on the Opening Day 2012 Roster: Fan’s View

With Spring Training 2012 coming to a close, the Milwaukee Brewers have set their roster for the opening of the regular season on April 6th at Miller Park against the St. Louis Cardinals. Here's a look at the pitchers who will begin the season with the Brewers as well as a few at Triple A Nashville who could step in if needed.

Starting rotation

Yovani Gallardo (RHP)

Zack Greinke (RHP)

Randy Wolf (LHP)

Shaun Marcum (RHP)

Chris Narveson (LHP)

The Brewers return all five starters from last year's team which was (and is) one of the best rotations in baseball. Marcum had shoulder issues early on but was pitching well by the end of Spring Training. He appeared to have put last year's late season flameout behind him. Greinke was in fine form (2.82 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 22 and 1/3 innings) and probably fielded more questions on when he was going to hire an agent for contract negotiations than he did about his pitching. Last season as a group, the starters struck out a lot more batters than they walked and that trend continued in this spring's Cactus League games.

Milwaukee's starting rotation is one of the strengths of the club, and I like the way they looked this spring. Right hander Marco Estrada will be the sixth starter when one is needed, a role he filled adequately in 2011. Except for a couple of bad outings in mid March, Estrada also had a fine spring.

If the Brewers need to add additional starters beyond Estrada, Amaury Rivas, Michael Fiers, and top prospect Wily Peralta will be in the rotation for the Nashville Sounds. All three are right handers. One or more could be ready to step in later in the season.

Relievers

John Axford (RHP, Closer)

Francisco Rodriguez (RHP)

Jose Veras (RHP)

Kameron Loe (RHP)

Marco Estrada (RHP)

Manny Parra (LHP)

Tim Dillard (RHP)

Axford emerged as a premier closer last season with 46 saves. Rodriguez surprised everyone by staying in Milwaukee, but that means the Brewers will have not only a good set up man in the eighth inning, but they also have someone who can step in as a closer if necessary. Veras, acquired in the Casey McGehee trade, is the primary seventh inning pitcher. Loe pitched much better last year after he was moved out of the setup role. Dillard had a poor start in Spring Training, but finished strong.

After missing all of 2011 with elbow and back injuries, Manny Parra returns as the only lefthander in the bullpen. Parra was effective as a reliever in 2010 after poor showings as a starter earlier that year and in 2009. I didn't know what to expect from him in Spring Training after he missed so much time, but he pitched well, allowing just two runs in 9 2/3 innings while striking out 11. Last year the Brewers did not have a left hander in the bullpen for much of the season, so a healthy and effective Parra could make a significant contribution.

Ideally, I'd still like to see one more lefthander in the bullpen. The most likely candidate is Juan Perez, who looked good in camp until suffering a collapsed lung. That put him behind, but he's returned to action. Perez signed a minor league deal and was invited to camp as a non roster player. He should be available after some more innings at Nashville. The other possibility is Zach Braddock, who hasn't regained his form from 2010, when he had a 2.94 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 46 appearances. Braddock did not have a good Spring Training, so I look for Perez to be the first called up when there is an opening in the bullpen.

Just two years ago, pitching was a weaker part of the Brewers' game. Now it's one of the club's strengths, and looks good going into the start of the 2012 season.

A Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Mark Hudziak has been a fan of the Brewers since they moved to Milwaukee in 1970.

Sources:

Milwaukee Brewers at MLB.com

Milwaukee Brewers at Yahoo! Sports

More from this contributor:

Milwaukee Brewers Sign Catcher Jonathan Lucroy to Five Year Contract Extension: Fan's View

Milwaukee Brewers Option Five Pitchers to Minors: Fan Reaction

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Updated Wednesday, Apr 4, 2012