Jhoulys Chacin was one of the biggest steals of the offseason last year and was a vital part of the success of the 2018 Brewers. He started 35 games, finished with a 15-8 record and a 1.1 WHIP. He is certainly deserving of getting the ball on Opening Day this season. His steady presence and leadership in a rotation that is now very young will be more important than ever.
Evidently, Brewers management is convinced Freddy Peralta is ready to take the jump to the next level. There is no doubting the effectiveness of Freddy’s fastball when he is able to consistently locate it where he wants to. His opponent batting average in 2018 was exceptional, just .178, and he struck out 11 batters per 9 innings. Nearly all of Peralta’s problems are self-inflicted, and do not reflect his opponents’ ability to make hard, effective contact against him. He is still just 22 years old, so if he can gradually cut down on his walk rate, there is no limit to his potential as a starting pitcher in the MLB.
23-year-old Corbin Burnes was extremely effective as a relief pitcher during the latter portion of the 2018 season, (2.61 ERA) and given his success in that role, some Brewers fans couldn’t help but wonder if he would follow in the footsteps of Josh Hader and be designated as a bullpen contributor for the long-term. Instead he will toe the rubber for the third game of the season for Milwaukee against St. Louis, which will be his first career start. Out of the three young pitchers that make up the middle of the rotation, Corbin Burnes has the highest chance of becoming a household name by the end of this upcoming season, given his track record and success last season using an effective fastball and lethal wipeout slider as his two main pitches.
Brandon Woodruff is a bit of a late-bloomer compared to his youthful rotation counterparts, but at 26 years old he still has plenty of upside as a quality starting pitcher for years to come. Woodruff was lights out in the postseason for Milwaukee last year striking out 20 batters and only walking 3. In game one of the NLCS, he pitched 2 perfect innings and, in a moment Brewers faithful will not soon forget, he also hit a booming home run to center field off of MVP and 3-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. His evident hitting abilities aside, Woodruff projects as a long-term piece for the Milwaukee Brewers who is versatile enough to start or come out of the bullpen if need be.
To start the season, Zach Davies will round out the starting rotation, while Jimmy Nelson continues easing himself back into live at-bats. However, if Davies’ spring training struggles continue into the season and Jimmy Nelson looks to be back to his former self, I would not be shocked if Nelson supplants Davies in the rotation eventually.
Aside from those two, the Brewers still have Chase Anderson as an option as well. Anderson will begin the season out of the bullpen, but is a valid option for a spot-start if injury or ineffectiveness plague the rotation. Last season, Anderson was the most home run prone pitcher in the National League, leading to frustration among the fan base and eventually Anderson was not seen as trustworthy enough to make the postseason roster.
From an outsider’s perspective, it may seem like starting pitching may be a position of need for the Brewers, however, if it can stay healthy and consistent, it could end up being a strength of the overall roster and help Milwaukee keep pace in a very deep National League.