"I just get lit up here," Sheets said. "But normally, I feel really good. Like 2004, I feel like I had a great year, but it came after I couldn't get an out all spring. I don't know why it's so horrible for me."
He will not have to worry about the dry desert air until mid-August, when the Brewers make their regular-season trip to face the Diamondbacks. For now, Sheets is focused on a different National League West foe. He'll get the ball on Opening Day against the Dodgers.
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.Pitching matchup
LAD: 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|
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 On television
LAD: FSN Prime Ticket
MIL: FSN North On radio
LAD: KFWB-AM 980
MIL: WTMJ-AM 620 On deck
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
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.