With MLB Opening Day only 14 days away and spring training games steadily underway, baseball season is right around the corner. Over the next month, we will preview all 30 MLB teams for the 2020 season leading up to Opening Day on March 26th. Next up, the Milwaukee Brewers 2020 preview. Check out the preview for the Miami Marlins.
The Milwaukee Brewers took a step back in 2019, winning 89 games and losing in the NL Wild Card game. 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich broke his kneecap at the end of 2019, effectively ending the Brewers season.
Despite the injury, Yelich put together another monster year on the back of his MVP season. Yelich hit .329 with 44 HRs and a 1.100 OPS. His ascension into one of the top players in the game has been instrumental in the Brewers’ success and they will be looking forward to getting him back. Elsewhere, Lorenzo Cain saw his numbers drop across the board in 2019. While he still delivered elite defense in center field, Cain will be looking for a bounce-back season at the plate.
Ryan Braun’s best playing days are behind him, but a full-time move to first base could allow him to focus solely on hitting. If Braun can find his power stroke again as he nears the end of his career, he will make the Brewers lineup that much deeper. After manipulating his service time and foolishly giving his at-bats to Travis Shaw, Keston Hiura proved that he can hit at the major league level. Hiura hit .303 with a .938 OPS during his rookie season and will be a mainstay in the Brewers lineup for years to come.
Shaw and fellow infielder Mike Moustakas both signed elsewhere in free agency, leaving some holes in the infield. The Brewers’ biggest offseason loss, however, is undoubtedly catcher Yasmani Grandal. Grandal’s impact defensively is immeasurable, and his offense continues to get better with age. The Brewers traded for Omar Narvaez in the offseason and hope that he can replicate the success he had in 2019.
Luis Urias was acquired from the San Diego Padres in the offseason and the Brewers are hoping that he can challenge for the starting shortstop position in 2020. Orlando Arcia has manned that position for the last four seasons, but Urias provides more pop while still playing quality defense.
The Milwaukee Brewers have not had a true ace in quite a while and 2020 will be no different. Brandon Woodruff, Adrian Houser, and Brett Anderson form a decent trio at the top of their rotation, but by no means will those three carry a team to a playoff series win. The 2018 Brewers got away with an average starting rotation by riding an elite bullpen. The 2019 Brewers expected the same and were extremely disappointed when Jeremy Jeffress had the worst season of his career. Relief ace Josh Hader then showed that even the most elite stuff is liable to get hit in the playoffs.
An elite bullpen is certainly an asset and the return of Corey Knebel from Tommy John Surgery will go a long way toward improving the bullpen for 2020. The Brewers are also putting their faith in Brent Suter and Freddy Peralta to have good seasons in front of Hader.
Craig Counsel and the Brewers are looking to go back to the playoffs for a third consecutive season in 2020. With Christian Yelich in the middle of the order and quality players all around him, that is certainly possible. The NL Central, however, looks to be a dogfight heading into the season with the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, and St. Louis Cardinals all looking like playoff contenders themselves. If the starting rotation can be serviceable and the bullpen returns to its 2018 form, the Brewers should have no problem making the playoffs in a crowded National League.