It was another successful season for Milwaukee Brewers baseball, even if it ended with heartbreak. The team showed resiliency and fight throughout the entire 162-game schedule. If the team takes each of these five steps, they will be set up for another pennant run in 2020 and beyond.
- Re-Sign Yasmani Grandal
In his first season as a Brewer, Yasmani Grandal had a profound offensive impact at the catcher position that Milwaukee has not had since Jonathan Lucroy. He set franchise records for home runs as a catcher (28) and walks (109). Aside from his prowess at the plate, Grandal proved to be a solid game-manager and pitch-framer. He has a $16M mutual option with Milwaukee for the 2020 season and it is likely that the two sides will be able to come to terms on a deal that would keep Yaz a Brewer for at least another few years.
- Develop Josh Hader’s Pitch Arsenal
2019 Josh Hader, though dominant at times, was exposed for his lack of a second reliable pitch on too many occasions, with the most crucial instance being in the Wild Card Game where his lack of command was the Brewers’ downfall in a previously well-executed team performance. His heater can be one of the most unhittable pitches in all of baseball, but it becomes predictable without the presence of a slider to pair with it. Milwaukee’s coaching staff will need to come up with a game plan that will develop Hader’s slider as an effective secondary threat to his fastball, which will reduce the number blown saves (7 in 2019) and longballs he gives up (15 in 2019) for the future. He is still just 25 years old, so there is ample reason to believe he will adapt and re-discover his dominance.
- Determine the Future of Jimmy Nelson & Travis Shaw
If you watched Brewers baseball at all in 2019, you would have noticed the absence of any sort of production from Travis Shaw. Shaw, who was a vital piece of both the 2017 and 2018 Brewers simply could not find consistency at the plate this season, (.157 BA, 7HR) and the reason is unknown to himself and all others associated with the team. Decisions will have to be made as to whether a season as dismal as this one warrants a second chance.
As for Jimmy Nelson, unfortunately he has failed to re-gain his status as an all-star caliber starting pitcher ever since his shoulder injury in 2017. He could perhaps provide value as a relief pitcher if the Milwaukee front office decides he is worth the gamble based on his past performance. Given how classy and resilient Jimmy has been throughout his arduous rehab process, it is likely he will continue to be a part of the team in some capacity.
- Bring back Jordan Lyles
Jordan Lyles was sensational in his time with Milwaukee in 2019 and was a huge part of why they were able to crawl out of third place and make the postseason. He went 7-1 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts for the Crew. Given the uncertainty that still surrounds the starting staff, bringing back Lyles as a steady, trustworthy presence every fifth day would do wonders for the team. Offering him a short-term deal would be a smart play for GM David Stearns.
- Ensure the Full Recovery of Injured Players
Milwaukee was a banged-up team in 2019. Corey Knebel’s season ended before it began due to Tommy John surgery, and along the way the team dealt with injuries to key players, Zach Davies, Brandon Woodruff, Lorenzo Cain, and of course, the MVP Christian Yelich. Making sure each of these players is 100% healthy heading into the 2020 season will go a long way in the team’s quest to make the leap they want to make- to become a true World Series caliber team.