MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- When they had C.C. Sabathia in 2008 and Zack Greinke in 2011, the Milwaukee Brewers went to the playoffs. When they were plugging the pitching holes in the seasons around those, the post-season didn't happen. That comparison alone has spirits up this year. Milwaukee's mound men make up a ready rotation. Kyle Lohse will be at the front end.
"There are so many guys out there with a lot of talent. There are guys with better fastballs, better sliders -- better everything than me, but the one thing that I can do is out-prepare you, and then go out there and put that on the field and do what I need to do," Lohse said.
Matt Garza is a front of the rotation too, as his fat new contract illustrates.
"We have to be prepared when the right free agent comes along to make us a better ball club," Brewers GM Doug Melvin said.
Adding Garza takes some pressure off Yovani Gallardo, who throws a lot of pitches, but now won't have to deliver all of them as the club's so-called ace.
"I think it helps all of us. You still have to go out there and compete, just as you mentioned. It's going to make us stronger, but for myself, I still have to go out there and take care of business every five days and win ballgames," Gallardo said.
Wily Peralta has some of the best stuff in camp, and having him behind Lohse, Garza and Gallardo puts Milwaukee above most opposing rotations.
"The back of the rotation has to be good. Everybody has to be good to be a championship team. Everybody has to do a little bit of work, and I think they count on me. I try to do the best that I can to help them," Peralta said.
Having been a swing guy for the Crew in the past, Marco Estrada is slated ahead of Tyler Thornburg and Will Smith as the fifth starter -- pushing those guys into the flex situation.
"You know, I just kept my mouth shut and did whatever I was asked to do, and eventually got the opportunity to start and have been there ever since. I'd like to stay there. Hopefully I don't have to go back to that role," Estrada said.
Count the Brewers relief corps as among those pretty darn excited about the way the starting rotation is shaping up. There's a real domino effect on any pitching staff.
"I think it's going to take a lot of stress off of us. I mean, you've got Garza, who's always going to go six or seven. You can almost sit back and relax for five or six innings, hopefully," Brandon Kintzler said.
Guys like Thornburg and Smith intend on helping the team, as well as their personal lots with what look to be long relief jobs at the outset of the season.
"I'm completely fine with that. As long as you get the chance to make the team, you're happy with that opportunity. I've told a bunch of reporters that you can't play GM. That's their job, and whatever they want to do," Smith said.
"You know, if I do start out in the pen or wherever it may be, I think I showed last year that I can do both, and I feel that as a guy like that, you can really help a team win. I know in 2011, Marco really helped out the team when he did that, so maybe I can be that type of guy," Thornburg said.
Manager Ron Roenicke will try to get his guys through eight innings before turning things over to closer Jim Henderson.
"The exciting thing for me is being there at the end of the game and securing the win for the team, because that's what it's all about, is getting the wins," Henderson said.
If you get enough of them, your team gets to play past game number 162.