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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Time For a Lineup Shuffle?

The Brewers lost again yesterday despite an excellent outing by Chris Narveson (6 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 5 K), pushing their record to a disappointing 0-4 to begin the season. Another tough loss for the Crew, who saw their 1-0 lead slip away in the eighth inning when Takashi Saito, a pitcher historically good at keeping the ball in the park, gave up two solo home runs to give Atlanta the lead. Surely most Brewers fans didn't expect their best performance by a starting pitcher to begin the season from Chris Narveson, and the Narve Dog indeed looked somewhat shaky in the first inning. He quickly overcame what I'm calling his "home opener nerves," settled in, and mostly made Braves' hitters look foolish for six innings.

Through those innings no Brave passed first base. Had the Narve Dog been more economical with his pitches he surely could have stayed in the game longer. Unfortunately, such performances sometimes go to waste, and Brewers' bats just couldn't provide enough offense for the bullpen to secure the win. It's far too early to start worrying, but it's probably time for Ron Roenicke to shuffle his lineup, if not only for the day.

Nyjer Morgan and Craig Counsell both have strong career numbers against today's starter, Derek Lowe (15-28, 10-28 respectively). I'd like to see Morgan in the two-spot today, allowing a break for Carlos Gomez, who's gone 1-15 after hitting a home run in his first at bat on Opening Day. It's great to make history and all, but that home run didn't help Gomez stay with the approach he worked so hard on this spring.

It might be tough for Roenicke to bench Yuniesky Betancourt today after he finally gathered some hits with a single and a double yesterday, but Counsell's numbers vs Lowe scream for him to start today. I'd probably stick Erick Almonte in right field in order to keep at least one left-handed bat on the bench, despite the fact that Mark Kotsay would benefit from seeing some more at bats before being called upon to pinch hit late in the game with its outcome potentially on the line. I'd also go with George Kottaras over Wil Nieves today. Nieves hasn't done much with his bat and the Crew needs more offense today than they do the ability of the catcher to throw out potential base-stealers.

My preferred lineup for 4/5/11 vs the Braves:

2B Rickie Weeks
CF Nyjer Morgan
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
3B Casey McGehee
C George Kottaras
RF Erick Almonte
SS Craig Counsell
SP Yovani Gallardo

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