The Brewers and Diamondbacks' series opener at Miller Park on Monday features a matchup of an experienced pitcher looking to get back on track and a newcomer in search of his second win in his last three starts.
On the Brewers' side, there is right-hander Matt Garza, who has allowed four or more runs in three of his six starts this year. That includes his most recent outing, an abbreviated start in St. Louis during which he allowed five runs over three frames before leaving with a bruised right thumb he suffered while batting. He'll open the series Monday seemingly in good health.
Garza will be opposed by Mike Bolsinger, who has no career appearances vs. Milwaukee. In his most recent start on April 29 vs. the Rockies, the right-hander allowed four earned runs over five innings.
Here's a cool factoid about the rookie right-hander: He grew up down the street from Wrigley Field, and that's where he earned his first big league win. He threw 6 2/3 shutout innings in a winning effort on April 24.
For the D-backs, their early-season struggles have been partly due to ineffective starting pitching. A couple of recent performances, however, have given them reason for optimism and could partly explain Arizona's recent string of wins.
Specifically, Bronson Arroyo, who will take the mound in the finale in Milwaukee on Wednesday, has had two good outings in a row, allowing two earned runs over a combined 13 2/3 innings. He had allowed 14 runs over his prior two starts.
Arroyo's ineffectiveness wasn't exclusive to just him. Bad starting pitching was a team-wide issue, one that appears to be in the process of being rectified.
Just ask Brandon McCarthy, another D-backs veteran getting on track after an abysmal start.
"It's just nice to be contributing," he said. "I know for me and for Bronson, it's a relief when you're not the goat every time out. We're back to a place where we're throwing well and getting consistent outings from the starting pitching and we're kind of settled back into that part of the season. We're not winning or losing games anymore in the first or second inning because we've given up so many. Now, it's just being able to battle for nine innings and I think we're doing a better job of that."
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke would like to see the kind of consistency from Garza that he had a few years ago with the Rays. While he has shown flashes of his old self, the Brewers are still waiting for him to string together several quality starts in a row.
"This is a guy that every time we faced him -- and I coached against him for a long time, when he was in Tampa -- this is a guy that gets after it," Roenicke said. "When he gets after it, you're going to have a tough time. He hasn't gotten in that groove yet. First game of the season, fantastic. Since then, it's been off and on.
"Whether it's just physically, the combination with his delivery, and then the mental part of being aggressive ... he needs to get back to the guy he is."
D-backs: Owings carries aggressiveness into big leagues
In the first two games of the series with the Padres, shortstop Chris Owings managed to take the extra bases on San Diego outfielders.
Owings spends time practicing running the bases each day trying to improve the way he rounds the bases and working on getting even more proficient in reading whether balls will fall into the outfield.
Since coming up from Triple-A Reno last September, Owings has adjusted along with the new level.
"I feel like I've been an aggressive baserunner my whole career," Owings said. "Just playing the game hard is what it really boils down to. Just take the extra base when it's there. Obviously it's a little different up here with better arms."
Brewers: Garza has good history vs. D-backs
Facing Arizona may be just what Garza needs to get back on track. In four career starts against the Diamondbacks, he is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA. He's allowed eight earned runs over 29 innings.
He faced the Diamondbacks once in 2013, earning the win on May 31 while with the Cubs. He allowed two runs over seven innings with four strikeouts in a 3-1 Cubs win.
• Brewers infielder Mark Reynolds has hit 192 homers since 2008, ranking fifth in the Majors among active players during that span.
• Every position in the Brewers' lineup has involved at least two players except for the leadoff spot. Center fielder Carlos Gomez has played every game this season and has led off each time.
• The Brewers are 9-6 at Miller Park this season while the D-backs have played a lot better on the road than at home. They are 8-8 on the road as opposed to 3-15 at home, which includes the two games against the Dodgers in Australia.