This is one of a series of posts in which I will be breaking down every team in baseball. I am by no means a credible source—merely a casual fan who knows a little about baseball and would like to share my observations.
Today we look at the Brewers, who last season held first place as late as August 31st, only to collapse in September and have their coffee machine removed from the clubhouse. Because coffee’s for closers. If you can’t play in the man’s game, if you can’t close—go home and tell your wife your troubles.
Projected Lineup: CF Carlos Gomez, 2B Scooter Gennett, C Jonathan Lucroy, 3B Aramis Ramirez, RF Ryan Braun, 1B Adam Lind*, LF Khris Davis, SS Jean Segura
Projected Rotation: RHP Kyle Lohse, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Matt Garza, RHP Mike Fiers, RHP Jimmy Nelson
* new additions
The Brewers are a fun team to watch, and that’s really all we know for sure.
It’s fun to see the amazing Jonathan Lucroy, the fiery Carlos Gomez, and the elephant in the room Ryan Braun play baseball. But anything beyond that is a mystery. The team seems to exist in a semi-quantum state of being sorta good but also really bad simultaneously. And no one seems to understand how Will Smith’s slider is physically possible.
So of course any attempt at projecting how well they’re going to do this season will probably be for naught. But I’m going to try anyway.
Let’s start with Braun. The general public doesn’t want to give Ryan Braun the benefit of the doubt. You all want to declare him a bust, a phony whose talent only came from PED’s, and move on. But I’m willing to give him this year to redeem himself with a bounce-back season, and for good reason. He claims the nerve problem that has affected his swing for the past two seasons is finally gone, so I’m bullish on Braun this year, and I won’t be the least bit surprised when he puts up 30 homers just like old times.
The rest of the lineup looks pretty solid. You know exactly what type of production you’ll get from guys like Lucroy and the ageless wonder Aramis Ramirez. Brewers fans have nothing to worry about when it comes to the heart of their lineup.
However, one guy to be concerned about is Jean Segura. He was dreadful last year, a huge decline from his All-Star 2013 season. The Brewers have lit somewhat of a fire under Segura, having acquired heralded shortstop prospect Luis Sardinas from Texas this offseason. If Segura isn’t pulling his weight, Sardinas will step in. It’ll be a quick hook, too—Sardinas is three years younger, and the Brewers are going to want to give him the exposure and groom him for the future.
The rotation lost a major arm and an epic chin-beard when the team traded Yovani Gallardo. They’ll miss his consistency, but his departure makes room for Jimmy Nelson, who pitched his way into a starting role with an outstanding showing at Triple-A Nashville last year, where he had a 1.46 ERA in 111 innings of work. A kid has that good a year, I don’t care who he is—you stick him in your rotation. Credit the Brewers for taking notice, and for taking a chance on him.
The bullpen will be strong once the team realizes that K-Rod shouldn’t be closing games. He was effective last season, but he gave up a ton of home runs. He just got lucky that most of them were solo shots. Don’t expect him to be so lucky this year as batters tee off him. Count on his ERA to spike upwards this year, and by midseason for the Brewers to explore some of their other options for the ninth inning.
Milwaukee’s bullpen produced two very serviceable relievers last year in Will Smith and Jeremy Jeffress. The pair have been good set-up men, but the Brewers could promote one to closer if one of them really gets in a groove. Or if they really want to be outside-the-box (not likely for this team), they’ll try newcomer Corey Knebel in the closer role. He throws fire, and has flown through the minor leagues averaging over 12 strikeouts per nine innings. Why not give him a shot?
So where do you put K-Rod? I vote for inside one of the sausage suits.
Projected Finish: 70-92, Fifth place in NL Central