Milwaukee Brewers baseball is back and as things begin to get underway, these are 10 things to watch for during Spring Training.
The entire Milwaukee Brewers team and staff have been at the Spring Training Facility for a few days now, as they prepare for their first game and work their way back into form.
To say the least, it’s been an interesting offseason for the Brewers as a number of key players from recent seasons were either traded, left via free agency, or were just flat-out cut. As a result, Milwaukee had to make a number of new additions, and instead of adding a big name or two, GM David Stearns would sign a number of low-cost, bounce-back potential players.
As you can imagine this has led to a number of question marks and uncertainty surrounding this Brewers’ roster. So with Spring Training now under way, while there are certainly many more things and players to keep your eyes on, these are my 10 big questions about this team.
How does the platoon at 3B look?
We’ve seen a lot of changes to the Milwaukee Brewers infield, but perhaps the biggest question mark is how the duo of Eric Sogard and Jedd Gyorko will perform. While Sogard is coming off of his best big league season in 2019, the underlying numbers say that he might not be able to duplicate it and regression is a real possibility.
Meanwhile, Gyorko is coming off of an injury riddled season where he played in only 24 games and slashed .139/.205/.372. Clearly the Brewers are banking on a bounce-back season with him healthy, but there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding these two players.
How will Ryan Braun fare at 1B?
We know that Ryan Braun will see playing time at first base this season, but the question is how how will he fare? Braun has spent some time at first base in the past with mixed results and seeing how he transitions to playing there throughout Spring Training will certainly be worth watching.
What do we see from Orlando Arcia?
It’s really now or never for Orlando Arcia to produce and with an unexpected injury to Luis Urias, he’s likely been afforded much more playing time at shortstop during Spring Training. However, with Urias expected to return early on in the regular season, Arcia has to play well this spring if he hopes to hold on to that starting spot. And if not, he may just become a likely trade candidate.
Can Burnes and Peralta rebound?
Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta started the 2019 season in the Milwaukee Brewers’ starting rotation but quickly found themselves on the outside looking in. Burnes would spend most of the season in the minors and Peralta was relegated to the bullpen.
But over the offseason, Burnes began working with a sports psychologist to focus on the mental side of the game and he will also focus more on using his slider. Meanwhile, Peralta had a fantastic 20 innings in the Dominican Winter League as he began incorporating a slider into his repertoire.
If these two are able to bounce-back, it will go a long ways in helping this Milwaukee Brewers team.
How does Omar Narvaez look behind the plate?
We all know that Omar Narvaez has a very good bat, but when comparing him to Yasmani Grandal, Narvaez’ defense doesn’t even come close, especially when it comes to pitch framing. Obviously the Brewers made the trade because they think that they can help Narvaez improve behind the plate, so it will be interesting to see how he progresses throughout the spring.
How does Adrian Houser look?
The emergence of Adrian Houser in the starting rotation last season was critical to the Milwaukee Brewers’ success at the end of the season. In total he would finish with a 3.72 ERA, a FIP of 3.88, and a WHIP of 1.24 in 111.1 innings pitched. If Houser can continue to progress in 2020, he will be a major factor in the front end of the rotation.
How does Josh Linblom transition to the MLB?
Josh Lindblom is coming off of an MVP season in the KBO where he recorded a 2.50 ERA, a 0.997 WHIP, and just 54 earned runs in 194.2 innings pitched. We’ve seen first hand Eric Thames come over from the KBO and have success, we’ve also seen pitcher Miles Mikolas of St. Louis find success after spending a few years in the JPCL.
Obviously this doesn’t mean that Lindlom will, but how he transitions back to the MLB is certainly something to watch out for.
How well does Corey Knebel progress?
With some uncertainty surround the bullpen this season, Corey Knebel can’t return from Tommy John surgery soon enough. As of now he is projected to make his return in early May. So far there haven’t been any set backs during his rehab, and let’s hope it stays that way.
Does Lorenzo Cain look 100 percent?
Last year was a down one for Lorenzo Cain and two big contributors to that were a thumb and knee injury. At Brewers On Deck, Cain said he was finally feeling 100 percent and had even changed his diet during the offseason, which puts him at about 10 pounds less than usual. While it sounds like Cain is good to go, it is something just to keep your eyes on.
What do we see from Avisail Garcia?
The Milwaukee Brewers didn’t really hand out any big contracts this offseason, but the biggest was a two-year deal worth $20,000,000 to Avisail Garcia. Obviously replacing the lost production from Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas won’t be easy, but Garcia has the potential.
His best season was 2017 when he was an All-Star with the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, he would see a steep drop-off in 2018, but to his credit, he did rebound last year with a slash line of .282/.332/.464. Without a doubt his bat will be an important one this season.