The Milwaukee Brewers see 2018 as a big season for them amidst, what looks to be, a highly competitive National League Central. The Brewers were on the outside looking in for 2017. They finished the regular season six games back of the Chicago Cubs for the division. They also missed the Wild Card game by a single win. This was due to the loaded NL West with the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers all clinching NL postseason births. Last season was the first since 2014 Milwaukee posted an above .500 record. In 2014, the team put together 82 wins while this season adding four more for 86. The Brewers look to take the next step in 2018. They are on the right track with what’s been an eventful off-season of key additions.
2018 Milwaukee Brewers Season Preview
The most notable moves, and maybe most important, the Brewers have made come in the outfield. Milwaukee bolstered their outfield in a huge way picking up two major pieces. On January 25th, the Brewers acquired Christian Yelich from the payroll-cutting Miami Marlins. Yelich, 26, was vocal about his frustrations with the Marlins’ direction moving forward and wanted out. He hit for .282 with 18 home runs and 82 RBI while snagging 16 stolen bases. In exchange, the Marlins received three top 10 Brewers prospects in RHP Jordan Yamamoto, IF Isan Diaz and OF Luis Brinson. The following day, Milwaukee signed veteran outfielder Lorenzo Cain. Cain, 31, put up an even .300 average in 2017 hitting 15 home runs and tallying 46 RBI with the Kansas City Royals. The Brewers may now have the best outfield in baseball with Yelich, Cain and of course Ryan Braun. Hernan Perez, Keon Broxton, and Domingo Santana are currently listed as backups in the outfield.
On the Mound
Moving to the mound, the Brewers picked up two starting pitchers in mid-December. Jhoulys Chacin was signed to a two-year deal after a solid season with the San Diego Padres. In 32 starts, Chacin went 13-10 with a 3.89 ERA striking out 153 batters. The second starting pitcher to sign with Milwaukee was Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo signed a one-year deal with the Brewers and is looking to have a better season in 2018. It was up and down for Gallardo with the Seattle Mariners going 5-10 with a 5.72 ERA in 22 starts. However, he has posted sub 4.00 ERA seasons in six of his last eight MLB seasons. According to MLB.com, the projected rotation stands as Anderson, Davies, Chacin, Suter, and Gallardo for 2018.
For the bullpen, the Brewers needed to replace some key pieces. Leaving were the likes of Willy Peralta, Jared Hughes, and Anthony Swarzak. Milwaukee went out and found Logan Boone and Matt Albers in January to try and fill the holes left by these previous players.
This is an area that the Brewers have definitely improved upon – again, thanks to key acquisitions in the outfield. So looking at the infield: Eric Thames at first base, Eric Sogard at second base, Orlando Arcia at shortstop and Travis Shaw at third base. This remained relatively unchanged barring everyone is healthy. The keys are players like Jonathan Villar and utility player Hernan Perez. In 2017, Villar appeared in 122 games hitting for .241 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI.
It’s no question that the NL Central is going to be a fun division to keep an eye on this season. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers all look as if they can make a run for the top of the division in 2018. The incredible outfield of the Brewers, along with the solid offense they provide, will be the cornerstone for the team this season as clearly being one of the best trios in MLB.
Looking at an ideally healthy season for the Milwaukee Brewers, they could finish the year with a 95-67 record and win the division or get a wildcard berth.
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