“He pitched really well last year. For his 120 innings he was really one of the better starters in the National League,” Counsell said. “At this point he’s pitched really well; that’s what it boils down to.”
Counsell has noted once the season starts who is No. 1 doesn’t matter as much as someone has to head out to the mound every fifth day, but he does acknowledge that the opener is a “ceremonial day and it’s an important day … and it’s certainly an honor.”
Guerra emerged last year for the Brewers after perfecting his split-finger fastball. Called up in May, Guerra became Milwaukee’s most consistent pitcher before injuries slowed him down late in the year, missing most of August.
Guerra was claimed off waivers from the Chicago White Sox in October 2015, the first transaction for general manager David Stearns. After being a minor-league lifer, Guerra made his major-league debut in 2015, pitching in three games in relief for the White Sox over a two-week period in June, allowing three runs in four innings.
Zach Davies is the only other starter penciled into Milwaukee’s rotation, with five others — Chase Anderson, Matt Garza, Tommy Milone, Jimmy Nelson and Wily Peralta — battling for the other three spots.
Entering Saturday, Guerra had pitched in 10 innings in spring training allowing two runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts. He had been scheduled to start Saturday against the Chicago Cubs, but was moved instead to Milwaukee’s minor-league game as Counsell didn’t want division-mate Chicago to get a look at Guerra since the pitcher will face the Cubs plenty during the regular season.