By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Apr 16, 2006 at 5:15 AM

Don't expect a miracle today if Ben Sheets actually takes the mound today for the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium.

The way people talk these days, it's as if he needs to go throw a no-hitter to convince some that he truly is the Brewers' staff ace, and that's just plain unfair.

Yes, it would be nice if the anchor of your pitching staff could get more than 12 victories in a year; and it would be nicer if the highest paid player in team history could approach the magical 20-victory plateau.

But for all the naysayers out there who have actually suggested that Sheets is not the team's ace, its time for a hard look at reality.

Few pitchers have been as dominant with their stuff as Sheets has the past few seasons. Ask anybody in the Brewers' locker room; when he walks out to the mound, they have every reason in the world to think they're going to win that day.

At the same time, you can ask any manager or player in baseball if they would rather face the right-hander, or have him throwing for them, and the answer would be unanimous.

It is true, that in order for the Brewers to take the next step in their recovery, they need Sheets to make 30 or more starts. But to think that a pitcher can control the final outcome of the game is absurd.

No matter how good a pitcher he is, he can only stop the other team from scoring. It's a plain and simple truth that cannot be debated. Few pitchers have the offensive prowess to change the outcome of a game with a swing of their own bat; although Sheets thinks his swing is just "starting to come around".

Aces on winning teams get 20 victories because they have a solid offense playing behind them. Those teams have mastered the fundamentals which the Brewers are still ironing out.

You can't blame Ben for the team not hitting with runners in scoring position. It's just ridiculous to think that way. It's also laughable to say Sheets is injury prone.

His rookie season, he made 25 starts with a brief stint on the disabled list. He made 34 starts the next three seasons, and had a combined ERA of just a hair under 3.00 in the last two. With the exception of his rookie year and last season, Sheets has pitched 200 innings or more, and threw a National League franchise record 237 innings in 2004.

Last year's ear infection was a one-in-a-million happening, and the torn back muscle was a freak incident. It's pretty safe to think that Sheets probably could have started on Opening Day, but with a solid rotation, why risk shortening his recovery?

Ben Sheets is the unequivocal ace of the ball club, and he doesn't need to go out there throwing no-hitters every time he takes the mound to prove it.

The Brewers need him healthy and dominant if they're serious about making the postseason anytime soon, and if you look at the numbers that count, there is little reason to think he'll be anything to the contrary.