Manager Ned Yost waited until the final week of camp to set his starting rotation, but the choice of Sheets for the opener came as little surprise.
"Ninety-five to 98 [mph] on his fastball? The best curveball in the league?" fellow starter Chris Capuano said. "I want him out there as much as possible, too."
Sheets is only 2-4 against L.A. in his career, but he has a respectable 3.80 ERA in those games. He didn't face them last season because he was scratched from a scheduled start at Los Angeles, beginning a two-month layoff with shoulder soreness. Sheets was trying to come back from a major injury suffered the previous August and was limited to 17 starts.
Still, there were positives last season. Sheets went 6-7 but posted a decent 3.82 ERA and a ridiculous strikeouts to walks ratio of 116:11. On Monday he will be matched up against Dodgers sinkerballer Derek Lowe.
The Brewers have traditionally struggled against the Dodgers, going 20-41 since joining the National League in 1998 including 11-19 at Miller Park and 2-4 last season. Milwaukee did win the teams' series at Miller Park, two games to one, but lost a 2-1 decision to Lowe on Sept. 6 there.
In his four previous Opening Day assignments, Sheets is 2-0 with a 3.80 ERA (nine earned runs in 21 1/3 innings) and 19 strikeouts. The Brewers are 3-1 in those four games, all of which were on the road against an NL Central opponent.
The team would love a start similar to last season, when the Brewers started the year 5-0 against the Pirates and Diamondbacks. Then-closer Derrick Turnbow became the first player ever to notch a save in his team's first three games, and for good measure he added a fourth. Overall, the Brewers were 48-33 in home games last season, making their 27-54 road mark all the more difficult to swallow.
RHP Derek Lowe
16-8, 3.63 ERA in 2006
1-0, 1.17 ERA in 2006 vs. MIL
2-0, 2.00 ERA lifetime vs. MIL
Brewers probable lineup|
RHP Ben Sheets
6-7, 3.82 ERA in 2006
Did not face LAD in 2006
2-4, 3.80 ERA lifetime vs. LAD
On the Internet
Official game notes
FSN Prime Ticket
Tuesday: Brewers vs. Dodgers, 7:05 p.m. CT
Wednesday: Brewers vs. Dodgers, 7:05 p.m. CT
Friday: Brewers vs. Cubs, 7:05 p.m. CT