With extravagant talk about newly acquired superstar Zack Greinke on his way to the Brew City, a majority of experts are now dubbing Milwaukee's pitching staff the foremost pitching staff (on paper) in the league.
It's about time.
In recent years, the Brewers have been a prime example of how maintaining an embarrassingly under-talented pitching staff can halt the rest of the team's success—as well as dishearten the entire Milwaukee fanbase, for that matter.
For example: Last year, Milwaukee's hurlers carried a 4.58 ERA over their backs—atrocious enough to be fifth worst in the entire MLB.
But statistics don't quite tell the tale of the Brewers' recent pitching struggles. So for the reader's sake, we'll cut right to the chase.
Well, I'll tell you straight up: The Milwaukee Brewers' No. 1 ace will remain Yovani Gallardo until proven otherwise.
To start off, let's get reacquainted with Yo.
Leading the Brewers in wins, strikeouts and ERA at the end of both the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Gallardo has obviously made his mark on the mound.
With his 200-strikeout season of 2010, Gallardo was dominant enough to place ninth in the National League in punch-outs. For a 24-year-old, that's clearly an extraordinary feat in itself.
Gallardo also agreed to a $30.1 million, five-year deal that could be worth $42.5 million over six seasons, so it's safe to say the Brewers have the intention of utilizing Gallardo's talents for a few years coming.
Now, to Greinke...
It should be no surprise how Doug Melvin's aggressiveness this offseason has resulted in Milwaukee's trade for Zack Greinke.
Stunning numbers and young potential are exactly what Greinke has proved over his immature tenure as a professional major league pitcher—and he has the hardware to dignify it.
Since entering the league in 2004 with Kansas City, Greinke has accumulated a 60-67 record to go with a 3.82 ERA.
However, in his record-breaking Cy Young Award-winning season of 2009, Greinke acquired a 16-8 record with a major league-best 2.16 ERA—officially putting him in the conversation as one of the premier pitchers in the entire league.
Be that as it may, Greinke fell into the inevitable hangover that follows a bulk of the Cy Young Award winners. Nearly doubling his ERA from 2009, Greinke retained a 4.17 ERA with a less than impressive 10-14 record in 2010. Let's hope that hangover isn't carried over into 2011.
Nevertheless, as Opening Day draws nearer, the expectations for Greinke to succeed (and succeed at a high level) from the get-go may prove to be a bit too high for comfort.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves...
Brewers fans should be as excited for a run at the NL Central crown as ever before—and with the new Gallardo-Greinke combo taking to the mound, Milwaukee is now a potent contender for the postseason.
Expectations will be high, and execution will be key for Greinke.
Let's not forget: The guy has yet to step on a mound in a blue and gold jersey.
However, until that highly anticipated time comes, the Brewers' No. 1 starting pitcher will remain Yovani Gallardo.
We'll just have to wait and see what transpires this season.
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