The Milwaukee Brewers were a bounce of the ball away from advancing out of the Wild-Card Game. With that being said, the Brewers come into the COVID-shortened season as a favorite in the loaded National League Central Division. Milwaukee’s core is intact.
Milwaukee Brewers 2019 Results
The season opened with a lot of promise. The Brewers were coming off a division title in 2018 and an NLCS appearance where they fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Early on, 2019 showed a lot of the same successes, until July and August.
The Brewers went 24-27 in those months and lost MVP candidate outfielder Christian Yelich to a fractured kneecap. However, the Brewers responded in September with a 20-7 record and a Wild-Card berth. They faced the Washington Nationals in the Wild Card Game.
Milwaukee fell to the Nationals 4-3 in the Wild Card Game after a ball hit to right field by Juan Soto snuck under the glove of right fielder Trent Grisham, allowing three runs to score. The Nationals, of course, would go on to win the World Series, and leave Brewers fans wondering what if.
Milwaukee Brewers Key Additions
One of the key additions came when the team signed the first baseman Justin Smoak as a free-agent. Smoak played in Toronto and hit .208 but clubbed 22 home runs and drove in 61 runs in 414 at-bats.
He will likely be called upon to add to the impressive home run total that the Brewers put up. They finished third in the National League in long balls.
Outfielder Avasail Garcia also signed as a free agent. Garcia spent the 2019 season with the Rays. He had a solid season, hitting .282 with 20 home runs and 72 RBI.
Garcia will probably fit in the Brewers’ talented outfield in the right field alongside Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. Garcia can also spell Cain in the center.
Catcher Omar Narvaez was acquired in a trade with the Seattle Mariners in December in a move to fill the void left by Yasmani Grandal. Narvaez hit .278 with 22 home runs and 55 RBI in 98 games with the Mariners.
The downside to Narvaez is defensive limitations. He ranked second-worst in defensive runs saved with -20 and only threw out 18% of would-be base stealers. The Brewers are banking on his offensive success.
Milwaukee Brewers Big Losses
The biggest loss came when infielder Mike Moustakas elected to sign a four-year, $64 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds. Moustakas hit .254 with 35 home runs and 87 runs batted.
Moustakas played 47 games at second base and 105 games at third for the Brewers, and they will miss his versatility.
Milwaukee also lost Grandal, to free agency when he elected to sign a four-year, $73 million contract with the Chicago White Sox. Grandal had a breakout year, hitting .246 with 28 home runs and driving in 77 runs.
His 28 home runs and 77 RBI were both career highs for the ninth-year pro. Grandal made his second All-Star team in 2019.
First baseman/outfielder Eric Thames also elected to leave via free agency when he signed a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals. The deal was worth $3 million.
Thames hit .247 with 25 home runs and 61 RBI in 396 at-bats. Thames played 105 games at first base and 12 in the outfield. He also hit a home run in his only career playoff game in last year’s Wild-Card Game.
Milwaukee Brewers Pitching
The pitching rotation will once again be anchored by right-hander Brandon Woodruff. Woodruff was great, amassing a record of 11-3 and an ERA of 3.62. He made his first All-Star appearance. Woodruff was Milwaukee’s seventh pitcher in as many seasons to start the opener.
Left-hander Brett Anderson will slot in as Milwaukee’s No. 2 starter. Anderson went 13-9 with a 3.89 ERA in 2019. He struck out 90 hitters in 176 innings pitched for the Oakland A’s.
Josh Lindblom appears to be No. 3 in the rotation. Lindblom was signed as a free agent in the offseason and has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2017 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Adrian Houser will be next up. Houser went 6-7 with a 3.72 ERA. He struck out 117 hitters in 111 1/3 innings pitched. He appeared in 35 games and made two quality starts.
The fifth spot in the rotation is currently up for grabs between righties Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta. Burnes appeared in 32 games for Milwaukee in 2019. The results were not great, as he went 1-5 with an 8.82 ERA in 49 innings pitched.
Peralta appeared in 39 games, going 7-3 with a 5.29 ERA in 85 innings. He did strike out 115 hitters, but his WHIP was a pedestrian 1.46.
Milwaukee Brewers Offense
Offense is their cup of tea. In 2019, they clubbed 250 home runs. The lineup had a lot of thumps, but a chunk of it was lost when Moustakas and Grandal left.
This lineup will once again be led by 2018 MVP Christian Yelich, who had an outstanding until the injury. He hit .329 with 44 home runs and 97 RBI. Yelich has been sensational since coming to Milwaukee prior to the 2018 season.
The table-setter will be Cain, who hit .260 and stole 18 bases. He provides speed and the ability to get on base, but his power numbers slipped pretty significantly. This will be watched to see if it is a fluke or the beginning of a trend.
Smoak will be counted on to provide some thunder in the middle of the lineup. He has tremendous power from the left side.
Narvaez will be counted on to fill the void left by Grandal. He hit 22 home runs a season ago, and that kind of pop plays in this home run-happy lineup.
Milwaukee Brewers Three Key Players
Is there a debate about the most important player? The answer is no. The most important piece is Yelich.
He carries the lineup. A true five-tool player is hard to come by, and Yelich fits the bill.
Brandon Woodruff is going to be counted on to lead a relatively unproven pitching staff. Will he be up to the challenge? All indications are that he will be, making him the anchor of the pitching staff for a long time.
Narvaez was a relatively under-the-radar type move when the Brewers traded for him in December. He will be the starting catcher and will be expected to put up numbers similar to Yasmani Grandal.
Will he be able to do it? Think about this — he played his home games in 2019 in Seattle, where home runs go to die. He will be playing in hitter-friendly Miller Park, so his numbers will go up.
Milwaukee Brewers Schedule Breakdown
Of Milwaukee’s 60 games, 40 of them are against teams in the National League Central. The Brewers will have the luxury of playing six of their 10 games against the St. Louis Cardinals at Miller Park.
On the other hand, they will have to go to Wrigley Field for seven of the 10 matchups with the Cubs and will be at PNC Park for seven of the 10 games against the Pittsburgh Pirates. They will play host to the up-and-coming Cincinnati Reds for seven of the 10 games.
The other 20 games will come against American League Central teams. They will have six against the defending AL Central champion Minnesota Twins while playing three games against the Kansas City Royals. They will face the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers four times each.
According to Betus.com, the Brewers are currently one of the top 10 favorites to win the World Series, with a moneyline currently at +2500. They are currently even with the Cubs in that regard, and just behind the Cardinals to put it into context.
To win the National League pennant, Betus.com has the Brewers at +1200, currently behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (+140), the Atlanta Braves (+500), the Washington Nationals (+700), the Cardinals (+900), the Philadelphia Phillies (+900), and the New York Mets (+900).
This season for the Brewers is going to come down to starting pitching. If they get decent starting pitching, their lineup is good enough to outscore anyone in the league.