Milwaukee Brewers 2020: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the NL Central?

For a team that was one bad pitch and one defensive miscue away from beating the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals on the road in the National League Wild Card Game last October, the Milwaukee Brewers underwent a radical makeover in the offseason. The loss of stars Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas to free agency along with various trades and other shuffling sent the team into the New Year with 13 players on the 40-man roster who weren’t with the organization on that fateful fall night at Nationals Park.

 

While the Brewers certainly have retained some star power, beginning with 2019 NL MVP runner-up Christian Yelich, there are questions about why the team went with a mix of veterans looking to bounce back and younger players lacking much of a track record instead of going out and acquiring more top-shelf talent.

 

Payroll is always a consideration in a small market like Milwaukee. But principal owner Mark Attanasio, as competitive as they come, has consistently shown a willingness to spend — so not making any major moves after coming off consecutive playoff appearances for just the second time in franchise history was somewhat surprising. Only time will tell if it was the right choice.

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers logo“Craig Counsell gets everything possible out of these guys. He’s got an uncanny knack for knowing how to ride the hot hand; just look at a guy like Brent Suter last year, throwing 85 and carving people up. You still wonder how many legit arms they really have beyond Brandon Woodruff and Josh Hader, although I like the idea of signing Josh Lindblom from Korea; that could pay off big for them. Avisaíl García was another smart signing; he’s a low-key, solid run producer. Keston Hiura is a special bat, but they’ve got to figure out a way to make him better in the field. I wonder if Lorenzo Cain is a plus player anymore; he looked like he is aging pretty fast. But Christian Yelich is just a joy to watch; he’s physically gifted enough to turn on anything and smart enough to go the other way. You’ll see guys try to flip up a breaking ball to steal a strike on him, and he’ll lace it into the corner. It’s really hard to make him look bad at the plate. He’s a true superstar at his peak.”

 

Beyond the Box Score

 

Adjustment time The Brewers surged into the playoffs in both 2018 and ’19 thanks in large part to late-season runs fueled by Craig Counsell’s bullpen-centric managing and the liberal use of September call-ups. Those strategies are going to need revamping heading into 2020 due to MLB rule changes. Relievers now will have to face at least three batters or finish a half-inning, and teams will be limited to 13 pitchers through Aug. 31 (on what will be a 26-man roster) and 14 from Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season (on a roster that can be expanded only to 28). For comparison’s sake, the Brewers were suiting up 20 — yes, 20 — pitchers last September and 38 players in all.

 

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Left alone Left-handed pitching has been a rare commodity in the Milwaukee organization in the last decade, especially with regard to starters. If Brett Anderson and Eric Lauer begin the season in the rotation as expected, it will mark the first time since the 2012 season the Brewers will break camp with a pair of southpaw openers (Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson). Brent Suter has 34 career starts under his belt as well, but he pitched so well out of the bullpen after returning from Tommy John surgery last September that it’s difficult to see the team messing with success barring some unforeseen development.

 

Looking to bounce back The Brewers bet big on neophyte starters Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta last year. Woodruff blossomed into an All-Star, but Burnes fell flat in four starts before being removed from the rotation, and Peralta struggled in eight starts. Burnes, so solid as a reliever in 2018, never found his footing in the bullpen, either, while Peralta found moderately better success in a relief role. The front office still has high hopes for the pair — both of whom have flashed electric stuff — and it will be interesting to see where they fit into the plans for 2020.

 

Raising Cain While he played in 148 games in 2019, Lorenzo Cain was a shell of his 2018 All-Star self due to nagging thumb, knee and ankle injuries, and his offensive numbers took a big hit as a result. Even so, Cain won his first Gold Glove in center. Given his pride, a bounce-back season at the plate could be in the offing.

 

Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

CF     Lorenzo Cain (R)

2B     Keston Hiura (R)

LF     Christian Yelich (L)

1B     Justin Smoak (S)

RF     Avisail Garcia (R)

C      Omar Narvaez (L)
3B     Eric Sogard (L)

SS     Orlando Arcia (R)

 

BENCH

OF/1B Ryan Braun (R)

INF     Luis Urias (R)

INF     Jedd Gyorko (R)

OF      Ben Gamel (L)

C        Manny Pina (R)

 

ROTATION

RHP     Brandon Woodruff

RHP     Adrian Houser

LHP     Eric Lauer

LHP     Brett Anderson

RHP     Josh Lindblom

 

BULLPEN

LHP     Josh Hader (C)

RHP     Corey Knebel*
LHP     Brent Suter

RHP     Freddy Peralta

LHP     Alex Claudio

RHP     Corbin Burnes

RHP     Ray Black

RHP     Bobby Wahl

 

*Note: Corey Knebel is returning from Tommy John surgery and could be back on the mound sometime in May.

 

2020 Prediction: 2nd in NL Central

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