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2020 MLB Team Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

Steve Buchanan provides his thoughts on what the 60-game MLB season could look like for the Brewers.

July Update: Not much has changed for the Brewers as we head into the 60-game regular season. I firmly believe Milwaukee will struggle more than people expect with a weak starting rotation and the loss of some key bats throughout the offseason. The news to keep an eye on here will be the status of 2B Keston Hiura, who is bothered by soreness in his throwing arm. While it doesn’t look to be overly serious, he’s one of their better power bats in a lineup that no longer will feature Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas. Even with the shortened season, I think the Brewers will be fighting for the second Wild Card spot but will ultimately come up short.

The Brewers are a very tough team to figure out as we (hopefully) head into the 2020 season. Sure, they’ll be very competitive all throughout the season, but they lost a lot of key pieces and I don’t think it’s really resonated with people yet. I don’t think the losses of guys like Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas have been talked about enough on the Brewers’ side. They’ll be a team that struggles with their rotation and now has to make up the power that both Grandal and Moose possessed. Nonetheless, all is not completely lost, so let’s discuss it.

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DraftKings Sportsbook odds

— Division Winner: +300

— League Winner: +1500

— World Series: +3300

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Key Departures:

Yasmani Grandal, C; Mike Moustakas, 3B; Gio Gonzalez, SP; Drew Pomeranz, SP

Key Acquisitions:

Avisail Garcia, OF; Justin Smoak, 1B; Brett Anderson, SP

2020 Fantasy MVP

Christian Yelich, OF

I know, big whoop. How exciting to choose Yelich. I get it, it’s not the exciting answer, but honestly, it’s probably THE answer. Yelich is fully healthy and recovered from fracturing his right kneecap and the extended layoff will fully ensure that. Prior to going down for the season, Yelich slashed .329/.429/.671 with 44 home runs, 97 RBI and 30 stolen bases through 130 games. We have zero reasons to believe he can’t reproduce that type of production once again, as he’s shown improvement in his two years in a Brewers uniform. The only downfall here is that he won’t have the type of protection in the lineup as he once did. Projected to hit third, Yelich will likely be sandwiched between Lorenzo Cain and Keston Hiura, which is certainly a far cry from when he had Grandal and Moustakas behind him.

2020 Fantasy LVP

Lorenzo Cain, OF

I don’t have high hopes for the soon-to-be 34-year old outfielder ahead of the 2020 season. After a stellar 2018 season, Cain took a major step back in 2019, slashing .260/.325/.372 with 11 home runs, 48 RBI and 18 stolen bases. With Trent Grisham out of town, Cain should re-claim his leadoff role, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the season wrapped up without him in it. Cain saw his OBP drop in dramatic fashion, going from .395 in 2018 to .325 in 2019. His strikeout rate went up from 15.2% to 17% while his walk rate dropped from a career-high 11.5% to 8%. Considering that and his stolen bases dropping from 30 to 18 on a team that loves to run, this is concerning. While last season could be a fluke due to knee and ankle injuries he dealt with, I wouldn’t be surprised if the crowded Brewers have some changes that aren’t favorable for Cain as the season moves on.

2020 Breakout Player

Avisail Garcia, OF

It’s hard to consider someone who has been in the majors for as long as Garcia to “breakout” but I truly feel like we’re about to see a player produce to his highest ability. Garcia has never really had the chance to operate in a full-time role and it’s looking as if he can get the chance here with the Brewers. Playing with the Rays last season, Garcia slashed .282/.332/.464 with 20 home runs, 72 RBI and 10 stolen bases. Now he’ll play in the hitter-friendly Miller Park, should be able to run freely and will likely be in a prime spot in their order. All of this together makes me think we could see a number of new career-highs for the 28-year old outfielder. This is another reason why I think Cain could be the LVP on this team, especially in the early going if he struggles at the plate. If Garcia isn’t immediately a starter to begin the season, a fast start for him could change the plans quickly. So while he’s one of the veterans on the team, I think the best is yet to come.

Final Thoughts:

The National League Central is up for grabs this season and I’ve given out my love for the Reds to take down the division. I think the Brewers have the lineup to put up runs but I don’t think the pitching will be able to take them to the next level. When you look at the rotation they’ll be running out, they are far from having an ace or anyone that can stop the “bleeding” if this team starts to slip. The bullpen doesn’t get much better either, and while they still have Josh Hader, getting to him could prove to be a bigger issue. In all, I think this team is destined to be competitive but not nearly as good as they were when they posted an 89-73 record in 2019.

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