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Milwaukee Brewers 2022: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers

With reigning NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes leading the way, the pitching-rich Brewers look to defend their division crown and make a deeper run in October

The script has finally flipped in Milwaukee. After decades of futility developing arms in the Brew City, the Brewers can officially be called a pitching-rich organization. It's a label that has a nice ring to it, and for a small-market team in particular.

Riding a pitching staff featuring the killer trio of Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta, lesser-known starters Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer and a bullpen featuring maybe the best 1-2 back-end punch in closer Josh Hader and setup man Devin Williams, Milwaukee is in terrific position to repeat as NL Central champion and extend its franchise record of postseason appearances to five.

But the Brewers shouldn't be ordering up the champagne again just yet. Christian Yelich has been a mere shadow of his 2018 NL MVP self, actually regressing at the plate in each of the past two seasons. Keston Hiura has gone from future star to non-factor. And Lorenzo Cain has looked every bit his age (36 in April).

There are reasons to be optimistic. Kolten Wong was a revelation, displaying pop he'd rarely shown during his time in St. Louis. Willy Adames blossomed into a star when he left Tropicana Field for American Family Field. Luis Urías emerged as a run producer in his first full season as a starter. And now, Hunter Renfroe will take over for the departed Avisaíl García in the middle of the lineup after an offseason trade brought him over from Boston.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Brewers

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"Job 1 is to figure out what's been wrong with Christian Yelich. Nothing sticks out at you about why he's stopped hitting; his hard contact is down, his ground balls are up, but nobody's quite sure why. Keston Hiura is a mystery, too. It feels like he hasn't made contact for two years. If those two hit the way they used to, it becomes an above-average lineup. If they don't, you're putting Willy Adames, Hunter Renfroe, Luis Urías and Kolten Wong into leading roles, and that's too much to ask them to lead the offense. The pitching is nasty — Corbin Burnes' command issues are a thing of the past, and he dominated in that six-man rotation. Brandon Woodruff is like Justin Verlander to me — he's a big, strong guy, and they need to just let him go instead of pulling him when they do. Freddy Peralta looks like he's throwing a high school slider, but guys can't hit it, so he's doing something right. Their bullpen is crazy good — you get the feeling they'll always be able to find decent middle guys off the scrap heap, and the back end of the pen is lights-out."

Beyond the Box Score

Sticking with Stearns In what has become an annual rite of the offseason, the New York Mets again reportedly requested permission from the Brewers to interview president of baseball operations David Stearns for a similar spot in their organization. But once again, they were denied. Stearns' profile has increased greatly in recent years, as he's spearheaded the small-market team's resurgence. Stearns signed a contract extension in January of 2019, and by promoting him from general manager to top baseball man in the organization, the Brewers protected themselves from losing him to opposing teams. But it's unclear how long the extension runs.

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Coaching change When the team again turned in a meager performance with the bats in an NLDS loss to Atlanta, it came as no surprise that hitting coach Andy Haines and assistant Jacob Cruz were relieved of their duties. Not long thereafter, Milwaukee hired a pair of co-hitting coaches in Ozzie Timmons and Connor Dawson. Timmons is the former first-base coach and assistant hitting coach for Tampa Bay, while Dawson was minor league hitting coordinator for Seattle. The team was also planning on hiring a third hitting coach — an assistant — when the lockout hit.

What about Hiura Heading into 2020, Keston Hiura was tabbed as a can't-miss star. Now heading into 2022, the Brewers don't quite know what they have in him. A hitting prodigy in his first season in the majors in 2019, he slumped in the two-month pandemic season in 2020 before struggling so badly in 2021 (.168 average, .557 OPS, 77 strikeouts in 197 plate appearances) that Milwaukee had to move on completely from Hiura while he tried unsuccessfully to fix himself in the minors. In fairness to Hiura, he was asked to move from second base to first base at the outset of spring training and was also dealing with his mother undergoing treatment for cancer. But getting him back on track is of the utmost importance.

Six-man staff Unsure of how the unprecedented nature of the 2020 season would affect the team's talented corps of starting pitchers, the Brewers opted to utilize a six-man rotation for the duration of 2021. The results were stupendous, as all their horses remained fresh while avoiding major injury. It wouldn't be surprising in the least to see Milwaukee employ such an approach again in 2022, considering the quality and quantity of arms the team can put forth.

Projected Lineup


2B    Kolten Wong (L)
SS    Willy Adames (R)
LF    Christian Yelich (L)
RF    Hunter Renfroe (R)
1B    Rowdy Tellez (L)
DH   Andrew McCutchen (R)
3B    Luis Urías (R)
C     Omar Narváez (L)
CF    Lorenzo Cain (R)


C     Victor Caratini (S)
UT   Jace Peterson (L)
OF   Tyrone Taylor (R)
INF  Keston Hiura (R)


RHP    Corbin Burnes
RHP    Brandon Woodruff
RHP    Freddy Peralta
RHP    Adrian Houser
RHP    Eric Lauer
LHP    Aaron Ashby


LHP    Josh Hader (C)
RHP    Devin Williams
RHP    Jake Cousins
LHP    Brent Suter
RHP    Brad Boxberger
RHP    J.C. Mejía
RHP    Miguel Sánchez

2022 Prediction: 2nd in NL Central