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Milwaukee Brewers 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Milwaukee Brewers 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Milwaukee Brewers 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Considering the unprecedented nature of the 2020 season, perhaps it was fitting that the Milwaukee Brewers accomplished a couple of notable firsts — they advanced to the playoffs for the third consecutive year (a franchise record) and did so despite finishing with a losing record at 29–31 (joining the 2020 Houston Astros as the only teams in MLB history to do so). 


Can the Brewers make it four straight postseasons in 2021? Not unless they improve their offense significantly, beginning with Christian Yelich. The 2018 NL MVP and 2019 runner-up completely collapsed at the plate after signing a nine-year, $215 million contract extension in spring training, and the rest of the unit followed suit. Now 29, Yelich is in his physical prime, and the pressure will be on him to bounce back to his MVP-caliber play. 


There is a bright side, though, and that's the team's pitching. There are a couple of young stud starters in Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, a couple of potential wild cards in Freddy Peralta and Josh Lindblom, and two of the game's best high-leverage relievers in Josh Hader and Devin Williams.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Brewers

"Craig Counsell is so good at getting the most from his guys; they're an average team, but they consistently overperform. He's got a promising top two in the rotation with Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, who really took off after ditching the four-seamer and taking advantage of the movement on his cutters and two-seamers. As usual, though, they're a little thin beyond that in the rotation, and they'll ride that bullpen. Devin Williams was the best player, not just pitcher, in the division. Hitters just didn't have a chance. It's a lethal changeup or a mid-90s fastball, and they can't commit to either. And Josh Hader's no fun to face, either. Christian Yelich was the big mystery last year; he still hit the ball hard with good pop and took his walks, but he looked like he was trying to do too much, and pitchers got him to chase. He needs more help in that lineup, and it's got to start with a bounce-back from Keston Hiura and a strong return by Lorenzo Cain. Because as good as Counsell is, there's only so much he can do."

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Beyond the Box Score

A black hole Since Prince Fielder left the Brewers via free agency following the 2011 season, 36 different players have started at least one game at first base while wearing a Milwaukee uniform. It appeared as though the team had finally found keepers with Eric Thames and then Jesus Aguilar, who was an All-Star in 2018, but the Brewers eventually cut ties with both. Ji-Man Choi also failed to make the cut and has since materialized as a starter for the Tampa Bay Rays. Third base has been a similar situation since Aramis Ramirez was traded late in the 2015 season, with 20 different players starting at least once there.

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Locking down the brain trust

The Brewers' young leaders in the front office, David Stearns and Matt Arnold, are highly respected. So much so that Stearns was promoted from GM to president of baseball operations in January 2019, a move that allowed team principal owner Mark Attanasio to deny the Mets permission to interview the 36-year-old Stearns for their GM job in November of this past season. Just a few days later, the 41-year-old Arnold was promoted from assistant GM to GM after several dalliances with different teams over the previous few seasons. The duo has spearheaded Milwaukee's resurgence since taking over in 2015. 


Will Cain be able? Citing concern about the COVID-19 pandemic, center fielder Lorenzo Cain opted out of the 2020 season after playing only five games, leaving the Brewers in a major bind. Cain was coming off his first-ever Gold Glove in 2019 and appeared primed for an offensive rebound after remaking his body in the offseason. He'll turn 35 in April and has two more years left on his contract. Both he and the team want a strong finish. 


Topa the world Right-handed reliever Justin Topa (pronounced TOE-pa) was one of the Brewers' feel-good stories in a challenging 2020, going from not even meriting an invitation to Spring Training Part I to making his major-league debut in September and becoming a reliable part of the bullpen down the stretch. He caught the eye of the brass with a live arm that, despite two prior Tommy John surgeries, saw him throw the fastest pitch of the season for the Brewers — a 99.9 mph sinker.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

2B     Kolten Wong (L)

CF     Lorenzo Cain (R)

LF     Christian Yelich (L)

1B     Keston Hiura (R)

RF     Jackie Bradley Jr. (L)

3B     Luis Urias (R)

C      Omar Narvaez (L)

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SS     Orlando Arcia (R)

BENCH

1B      Daniel Vogelbach (L)

OF      Avisail Garcia (R)

OF      Tyron Taylor (R)

UTL    Mark Mathias (R)

C        Manny Pina (R)

ROTATION

RHP     Brandon Woodruff

RHP     Corbin Burnes

RHP     Josh Lindblom

RHP     Adrian Houser

LHP     Freddy Peralta

BULLPEN

LHP     Josh Hader (C)

RHP     Devin Williams
LHP     Brent Suter

RHP     Eric Yardley

RHP     Justin Topa

RHP     Drew Rasmussen

LHP     Eric Lauer

RHP     Ray Black

2021 Prediction: 4th in NL Central

(Brandon Woodruff photo courtesy of @Brewers)