It’s well known that Craig Counsell will have more than his fair share of roster decisions to make before the season starts. With pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale tomorrow, here are some questions heading into the Brewers spring training.
Who will play center field?
Center field candidates at this point consist of Keon Broxton, Ramon Flores, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Eric Young Jr. and Rymer Liriano. All five have seen the majors at one point in their career, with Eric Young Jr. having the most big league experience, but my money here is on Rymer Liriano to take the most playing time. Once a big time prospect, Liriano got caught in the outfield jumble in San Diego last season and missed out on his chance to make the team. At 24 years old he still has all his prime years left in front of him. Look for the staff to take a long look at him as an option with major upside. See a more in-depth center field analysis here.
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Who will be the Brewers closer?
The three real candidates here are Will Smith, Jeremy Jeffress, and Corey Knebel. Despite Knebel having a very good rookie year, I believe Counsell will lean towards the more experienced pitchers to begin the year. Both Jeffress and Smith are good candidates with electric stuff, and I expect both to get save chances at some point this season. However, with Will Smith being the only southpaw on the 25 man roster, I expect Jeffress to get most of the save opportunities at the beginning of the year.
Who will start opening day?
Choosing the opening day starter can sometimes be obvious, and sometimes very tricky. This year I expect Counsell to be looking at either Wily Peralta or Matt Garza to start opening day. Peralta is possibly the most talented pitcher on the team, and will be looking to bounce back from a down year, but Garza is the most experienced starter, and Counsell could send him out opening day as a show of good faith. I expect this decision to come down to spring training performance, and I give Garza the early edge based on his determination to redeem his performance from last season.
Do you agree with my predictions? Let me know in the comments!