The Milwaukee Brewers open the 2009 season in San Francisco against the Giants this afternoon. Jeff Suppan (10-10 / 4.96 ERA in 2008) will start the season opener for the Brewers against San Francisco's Tim Lincecum (18-5 / 2.62 ERA in 2008), who won last year's National League Cy Young Award. Lincecum is one of the bright young pitching starts in the game, but he's just 1-2 with a 5.25 ERA in four appearances against the Brewers.
The number one question for the Brewers, how do they make up for the pitching losses of CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets? The teams new ace is Yovani Gallardo, who made just four starts for the Brewers in the regular season last year. But Gallardo has ace-like stuff and given good health, should put up some outstanding numbers for the Brewers.
Lefty Manny Parra went 10-8 with a 4.39 ERA in his first full season last year. He started strong before hitting a wall and struggling down the stretch. Look for Parra to bounce back strong this season.
How well the final two pitchers in the rotation perform could be a big factor in determining whether or not the Brewers are in the NL Central race. Braden Looper is the 4th starter, a player that has been able to eat up a lot of innings historicly. And Dave Bush fills the fifth spot. Bush has been pretty reliable in the past couple of seasons and just like Looper, has been able to eat up innings and give the Brewers a chance to win.
The Brewers will have a new manager in Ken Macha, which should be an upgrade and they have a new closer in Trevor Hoffman, although the Major League's all-time saves leader is starting the season on the disabled list.
Rickie Weeks has had an excellent spring and he may be ready to take off this season. Prince Fielder also goes into the season with a new 2-year, $18 million contract, which should allow him to relax and play without worried about his contract future for awhile.
Most forecasters have the Brewers finishing 2nd behind the Cubs in the NL Central. If they stay healthy, there's a good chance they could pull that off and be competing for a spot in the post season again.