The Milwaukee Brewers have known for two months that they have a rotation fixture in Matt Garza for the foreseeable future.
The Atlanta Braves didn’t even know Aaron Harang would wind up wearing their uniform until just over a week ago.
Garza will try to help his new team open the season with a series victory Wednesday against the visiting Braves, who will hand the ball to Harang hoping to find an effective stop-gap option for their injury-plagued rotation.
Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse and Wily Peralta all made 30-plus starts for the Brewers (1-1) last season and Marco Estrada was outstanding in August and September, leaving one clear hole in a rotation that gave up an NL-worst 120 homers.
Milwaukee is hoping Garza (10-6, 3.82 ERA) can provide some stability after signing the former ALCS MVP to a four-year, $50 million contract in early February – the biggest free agent contract in franchise history.
The Brewers now have to hope Garza’s ugly spring wasn’t a sign of things to come. The right-hander gave up 22 runs – 15 earned – in 15 1-3 innings, as opponents hit .403 against him, raising his spring ERA to 8.44 since 2011.
Gallardo isn’t concerned with Garza, who went 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA in 11 starts for the Cubs last season before struggling down the stretch in Texas.
"I think (Garza) is going to just make us that much better. Having that opportunity was a big move for us," Gallardo told the team’s official website. "He has fun, but yet again, he takes care of business whenever he has to."
The Braves (1-1) would love to have such stability in their rotation with Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy and Gavin Floyd all on the disabled list.
It appeared Freddy Garcia would be joining Julio Teheran, David Hale and Alex Wood in an early four-man rotation until Floyd, Minor and the recently signed Ervin Santana were ready, but instead it’ll be Harang (5-12, 5.40). Atlanta surprisingly released Garcia on March 24 and hours later signed Harang, who had the fourth-highest ERA last season among the 107 pitchers to work at least 140 innings.
The Braves are the sixth organization Harang has pitched for in the last 12 months.
"We did not want to go into the season with really four young guys and just not have any coverage for them," general manager Frank Wren told the team’s official website. "This gives us someone who has been through the battles and knows what to do and knows how to handle things. Similar to Freddy, but we just felt (Harang) was a better fit for us."
Wood looked sharp in his first turn in the rotation Tuesday, allowing only Carlos Gomez’s leadoff homer in the first and four other hits in seven innings as the Braves won 5-2. Freddie Freeman, who had four singles in 36 previous at-bats at Miller Park, went deep twice and Jason Heyward also homered.
”I don’t know what it is. I’ve always struggled here,” Freeman said. ”It’s nice. I was obviously due.”
Atlanta had scored 16 runs while going 1-9 in its previous 10 in Milwaukee.
”The last three or four years, we haven’t really done well against the Brewers or here at Miller Park,” Freeman said. ”It’s nice to get the first one out of the way."
Freeman is 4 for 8 with a homer against Garza, who has a 6.43 ERA in three lifetime starts against Atlanta – none since 2012.
Harang has a 1.80 ERA in four starts against the Brewers over the past three seasons.