The Milwaukee Brewers are looking to get back to the postseason for the third straight season — something that’s never been done in franchise history. In order to do that, they will have to navigate through perhaps the most competitive division in all of baseball, which is the National League Central.
The 2020 season will be like nothing anyone could have prepared for. What does this Brewer team look like heading into the season? What new players will have a significant impact? How does the schedule line up? Here is what to expect for your Milwaukee Brewers.
The 2020 schedule will feature only 60 games compared to the marathon of 162. Due to Covid-19, travel will be limited this year by keeping all games inside each team’s region. That means the Brewers will face their four NL Central opponents as well as the five AL Central teams.
The start to the season won’t be an easy one as the Brew Crew travels to the Windy City to take on the rival Chicago Cubs. The Cubs and Brewers should both be competitive in the four-team race of the NL Central. Whoever wins the opening series will be happy with their start.
As the saying goes, it’s not how you start, but how you finish. If that’s the case, the Brewers will have to win some big games in the final week on the road. Three games against the Cincinnati Reds and a huge four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals is how this 60-game sprint ends. The color red will either be a welcome sight or a color that will haunt them until March rolls around next spring.
Since the start and finish are so tough, that must mean the relief is somewhere in the middle of the schedule. It comes on the last weekend of August. The Pittsburgh Pirates come to town for a four-game wrap-around weekend series followed by a two-gamer with the Detroit Tigers. After a three-game series in Cleveland, they go over to Detroit for two more. Wins will be much-needed here, as the rest of September is loaded with tough division games.
The rotation will be led by Brandon Woodruff. The 27-year-old hard-throwing right-hander should be the Opening Day starter. The rest of the rotation is where the season could be won and lost. Eric Lauer was brought over in a trade with the San Diego Padres. The young left-hander should find a spot towards the back end. Adrian Houser will be a key player that the Brewers will want to take the next step forward. Options are plentiful for rounding out the rotation, but whether that is a good or a bad thing is yet to be determined.
When the game heads to the ninth, in comes Josh Hader. Hader will close with Corey Knebel and veteran addition David Phelps helping bridge the gap to the ninth inning. Alex Claudio is also a big piece, as he pitched in over half of the Brewers games last season.
There isn’t much debate that the strength of the Brewer team lies with their offense. Anytime you have a two-time batting champion such as Christian Yelich in your lineup, you can expect to score some runs.
The universal designated hitter may not be welcomed by some NL teams but the Brewers will gladly slide veteran Ryan Braun into that role. Braun has lost a step in the outfield and isn’t exactly the most comfortable at first base. Keeping him in the lineup without a glove is something the Brewers will gladly take in 2020. This also allows veteran switch-hitter Justin Smoak to play first base every day.
As mentioned above, Justin Smoak signed a free agent deal to be the Brewers starting first baseman. He has power from both sides of the plate and is a solid defender.
Avisail Garcia will get most of the starts in right field. Brewers fans will love his display of power and is more athletic than his body may look. For a right-handed hitter, he hits homers to right field like a left-handed pull hitter. His swing should fit in very well for Miller Park.
Third base looks like it has the potential to be a straight platoon option. Jedd Gyorko is a veteran right-handed hitter who can play against lefties while Eric Sogard makes his return to Milwaukee. Both can play other positions but should see the majority of their starts at the hot corner.
The Brewers have a new catcher in Omar Narváez, who came over from the Seattle Mariners. His 22 homers in Seattle in 2019 should translate well to the friendlier ballparks of the NL Central. He should get the nod against right-handers while Manny Pina will serve as a quality backup who can slide in versus southpaws.
The buzz around Keston Hiura has been palpable for a few years now. In 2019, he hit .303 with 19 home runs. He’ll turn 24 in August, and this could be the season where he takes the next leap to stardom. The average is there, and the power may not be far behind.
In the trade with the Padres, the Brewers brought in a potential future star in Luis Urias. Urias has the discipline and bat control to find himself as the future leadoff man for the Brewers. He and Hiura could be a fun up-the-middle combo for years to come.
The National League Central will be a war! Four teams are more than capable of winning the division, including the Brewers. They will score runs, so their success will likely lie with the starting rotation. If the arms can do their part, then the Brew Crew should find themselves in the heart of the playoff picture once again.
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