Milwaukee Brewers 2018 Season Preview
In the two-and-a-half years since General Manager David Stearns took over the Milwaukee Brewers, becoming the youngest General Manager in MLB, the Brewers have steadily rebuilt their team, and are approaching contender status a bit earlier than most would’ve expected. Milwaukee was right in the thick of the Wild Card race until the last days of the regular season, so in 2018, expect them to clear that last hurdle, and try and get to the postseason for only the fifth time in franchise history.
Things might not be so rosy this year
However, in a National League conference that will be sure to have plenty of contenders for the Wild Card spots, the Milwaukee will have a season-long question mark around whether or not they have the pitching to get them to where they want to go. Last year, Milwaukee finished with the 5th-best rotation ERA in the NL, but things might not be so rosy this year.
Pitcher Jimmy Nelson went 12-6 last year and finished with a 3.49 ERA, but he had off-season surgery on his shoulder, and might not return to the mound until late May or early June. Even when he does return to the mound, it’s a faulty assumption to think he’ll return at 100%. There will inevitably be an adjustment curve, so the question is whether Milwaukee has the additional arms to help out.
The fear factor or not
Chase Anderson and Zach Davies are there, but if you take a closer look at the advanced metrics, there’s a distinct possibility they could both be in for a regression this year. The Brewers also have Jhoulys Chacin, Yovani Gallardo, Wade Miley, but how much fear that group inspires in the heart of opponents remains to be seen. Although, pitcher Corbin Burnes, who was the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2017, could be coming to the bigs sometime soon as well, which could make things interesting,
In the batting order, manager Craig Counsell will have some decisions to make, after bringing in outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. The two of them, plus Domingo Santana, should be the guys who start in the outfield all season, and fill out much of the top of the batting order. However, with young guys like Keon Broxton and Brett Phillips potentially available, if the Brewers decide they want to make a mid-season move to pick up another arm, they could do so by trading Santana.
The interesting wrinkle
In the clean up spot of the order, expect to see Ryan Braun and Eric Thames going half-and-half all season in both the batting order and at first base. The interesting wrinkle is that, between both guys, they will earn approximately $25 million this year. Since some of Braun’s salary is deferred, though, that could allow Stearns the financial flexibility to make a move.
If moves are going to be made, another spot to keep an eye on is the bullpen, which is always a hot spot during trade talks. Now, just how deep the Brewers go in trade talks for the bullpen is the question, considering they burned more than $5 million after acquiring Neftali Feliz last year, only to see him fall flat on his face as a closer. The early premise is that Milwaukee will give Anthony Swarzak a chance to earn the closing job.
On the front foot
The Brewers can’t afford to sit back and have situations dictated to them, though, as they will spend all season looking up at the Chicago Cubs and battling it out with the St. Louis Cardinals in the chase.