The 2019 season is just around the corner, and the Brewers are fresh off a successful year, reaching the NLCS for the first time since 2010. There is a lot of momentum from Milwaukee coming into this season. With 45 days until Opening Day, the Brewers have a lot to look forward to, including the reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich, along with arguably the best bullpen in baseball. They can only get stronger from here. However, some critics will say otherwise.
According to Fangraphs, the Brewers are projected to finish last in the NL Central, and furthermore, they are also projected to finish just shy of .500 with a 79-83 record. Here is a question every Brewer fan is wondering. Why? How can we be that bad coming off a historic season? Yes, the Brewers have not done much this offseason, even with key players on the market. But David Stearns is not known for picking up All-Star players on such big contracts. Take Christian Yelich for example. The Brewers acquired Yelich before the start of the 2018 season. Some fans were on the fence about the trade due to them giving away underrated outfielder Lewis Brinson. In fact, many fans thought Yelich was just an average player, but he turned into an All-Star. It is hard to believe that the Brewers will finish last in the NL Central, especially after a historic season.
The Pirates have not done much this offseason and have lost several key players in their lineup throughout the years, including Andrew McCutchen and now Josh Harrison. However, they did add Chris Archer at the deadline this past season, who ended up having a disappointing finish to the year. They also picked up Joe Musgrove from the Astros, who now sits in the middle of their rotation. The Pirates have a decent starting rotation, but it is not close to the success the Brewers have had with theirs. Guys like Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta, who have earned their way into the starting rotation, along with returning pitchers Jimmy Nelson, Jhoulys Chacin, Zach Davies and hopefully Gio Gonzalez will blow Pittsburgh’s stats out of the water. Let us not forget Milwaukee’s lethal bullpen made of guys like Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, and Corey Knebel.
The Reds have done quite a bit this offseason that could help make a run in the division. They traded for Dodgers outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, but is that outfield as dangerous as the Brewers? I am not so sure about that. Sure, Matt Kemp is a solid player, but up until the 2018 season, he has not been as consistent as he usually is. Now, you could say the same thing about Ryan Braun, who fans still talk down on since his steroid bust in 2011, but Braun plays well when it matters. The former NL MVP and 6x All-Star has been so consistent both offensively and defensively that it is almost impossible to beat him and Yelich as the top duo outfielders in the division. Matt Kemp played well in 2018, making fans think that he is back in his prime. As for Yasiel Puig, his performance has fluctuated so much that is hard to tell whether he is as good as Dodgers fans say he is. We will see this season, but the Yelich/Braun duo will succeed once again in the NL Central. The Reds also acquired All-Star pitcher Alex Wood from the same trade, hoping to boost their bullpen from what it was in 2018. In addition, the Reds traded for Sonny Gray, reuniting him with his former Vanderbilt and Brewers pitching coach Derek Johnson. There is no doubt the Reds will be better than they have been in previous years, but the Brewers will still outplay them with their strong hitters like Yelich, Braun, and Aguilar, as well as their power defensively.
The Cardinals could possibly be a threat in the NL Central this season, but the Brewers have all the pieces needed to beat them. The Cardinals recently added Paul Goldschmidt, arguably the best First Basemen in the league. He will be a key player in their lineup to watch out for in the division, let alone the entire league. Once again though, the Brewers have two former NL MVP’s in their outfield in Braun and Yelich, a young, top underrated infielder in Arcia, and a lethal offensive lineup consisting of guys like Braun, Yelich, Aguilar, and now former Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal. Yadier Molina is a top 5 Catcher in the league, but the Brewers now have another key advantage behind the plate in Grandal. You would be surprised how many Brewers fans were upset about this signing, but if you look at his stats from 2018, he was a top 5 Catcher in the league. Yes, he did not play well against the Brewers in the NLCS, but they also have two other Catchers in Piña and Kratz. Grandal is also capable of playing First Base, seeing as Aguilar struggles substantially in the field. The Cardinals have above average pitchers in Mike Mikolas, Carlos Martinez, and Jack Flaherty, but guys like Jhoulys Chacin, Jimmy Nelson, Brandon Woodruff, Corrbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta will be more lethal in this division than them. The Cardinals are a team to watch out for this year, but the Brewers have more than what it takes to beat them.
Then we have the Cubs. A team that has and still is a threat to the Brewers coming into this season. The Cubs have a solid squad, but the Brewers have more talent and can take them down in games when it matters, as we have seen before. The Cubs may even get beat out by the Cardinals, who have added a major addition to their team both offensively and defensively. The Cubs bullpen is weak compared to the Brewers and their starting rotation will not be good enough to outpitch them. They have several guys that cannot get the job done in big games, with ERA’s between 3-6. Yu Darvish is coming off a season-ending injury and is not going to be as promising as Cubs fans think, especially since he struggled prior. The Cubs starting rotation consists of guys like Jose Quintana, Kyle Kendricks, Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, and Cole Hamels, some who had struggling starts to their season, a time when the Brewers can grab their momentum early. You would be surprised how many Cubs fans have said, “The Brewers had a bunch of one-hit wonders last season”. Oddly enough, the Brewers still outplayed them and won the NL Central last season. The Cubs may have Javier Baez, who lost the NL MVP title to Christian Yelich, Anthony Rizzo, arguably a top 5 First Basemen in the league, and Kris Bryant, who Cubs fans think will shine again in 2019, but the Brewers have more talent right now and coming up in guys like Keston Hiura and Corey Ray, who have a very good chance of getting called up this season.
The Brewers’ talent and success last season make it hard to believe they will finish last in the NL Central in 2019. The rest of the division have upgraded their rosters quite a bit, but they all still have areas of struggle that will not get the job done against the Brewers, especially at a prestigious field like Miller Park (soon to be American Family Insurance Field). The Milwaukee Brewers will once again be a team to watch out for this season in the NL Central, despite reports saying otherwise.