Now that this thrill ride of a season has finally come to an end, we all should be proud and thankful to this year’s squad. The Milwaukee Brewers provided some of the best baseball we will see for a long time, or until next Spring.
Through the ups and downs in 2017, there were several positives that should leave fans very hopeful for the 2018 season. From the emergence of our young bright stars to the heart that this team showed from Opening Day up until game 161, no one could have expected such a ride
Now let’s take a look at what we all have to look forward going into 2018.
1. The emergence of young prospects and trade acquisitions.
We all knew that going into 2017 that there were a lot of unanswered questions. Was Travis Shaw worth Tyler Thornburg? How would Domingo Santana bounce back from an injury-plagued season? How would the young phenom Orlando Arcia do in his first full season in the majors? Will Eric Thames contribute to the Brewers after years overseas?
The answer is a big ‘yes’. All of the aforementioned questioned worked out tremendously well for the Milwaukee Brewers. Shaw had a career year. Thames bat showed up from Korea. Arcia showed that he is more than just a glove. And Domingo Santana bounced back with an incredible year.
On offense, the Brewers have at least four out of the eight positions in the starting lineup that have a chance to be key contributors to the 2018 squad. With more on the way, there could be some intense competition in Spring Training as well with all the young talent making its way to Milwaukee soon.
This brings us to our next bright spot. The graduations of top prospects who showed that they will be impact players in 2018.
2. Call-ups making an impact
In 2017, we all knew that we would soon be seeing some of the Milwaukee Brewers talented prospects in action. What we did not know, or even expect, was for any of them to make such impact players in our pennant chase. Guys like Josh Hader, Brett Phillips, and Brandon Woodruff all have shown that they will be on the Opening day roster come 2018.
Josh Hader’s ERA of 2.03, 68 strikeouts, and only 22 walks in 47 2/3 innings pitched was one surprise no one expected. Everyone knew the young stud had an electric arm, but his contributions from the bullpen and ability to go multiple innings on many occasions had a huge impact on this season. Hader clearly is just getting started, and he should be a huge piece in 2018.
Speaking of electric arms? How about the strongest arm in the Majors? That title belongs to young phenom and fans favorite Brett Phillips. Phillips on two separate occasions broke the record for the hardest ball thrown from the outfield according to StatCast. The first one he tossed at 104 mph, the second at 104.7 mph. Phillips has been rated with an 80-grade arm. He’s also shown promise at the plate. His slash line of .265/.344/.410, with three homers and nine RBIs in 36 games is something to keep an eye on from the young stud.
3. The starting rotation showing major promise
The Milwaukee Brewers have not been the luckiest when it comes to having a decent, or even a good starting rotation. Well, since 2011 anyway. That fate seems to be fading in the rearview mirror now. With Chase “The Ace” Anderson showing he could have been a Cy Young Award finalist if healthy all season. Zach Davies won 17 games, Jimmy Nelson finally found his groove, and prospect Brandon Woodruff succeeded in his first taste of the Major League level.
4. The bullpen stepped up
In the beginning of 2017, the Milwaukee Brewers faced some pretty hefty bullpen woes. Neftali Feliz and Wily Peralta were big reasons for such struggles. The Brewers made an effort to compete when they acquired relievers Jeremy Jeffress and Anthony Swarzak to help compliment their stud closer, Corey Knebel. Guys like Jacob Barnes and Jared Hughes also had huge roles in the team’s success.
The biggest story out of the pen has to be Knebel. He really stole the show this season. In 76 innings pitched, Knebel struck out 126 batters and he tallied 39 saves while only posting an ERA of 1.78. Sure he had his moments, but he is the next big thing in baseball when you talk closers. If the bullpen repeats their success in 2018, the Brewers will be tough to beat when leading after five innings.
We have quite a bit to look forward to in 2018. This team is sure to add something big in the off-season to help complement its already competitive roster. We should start thinking playoffs again as soon as the team is back in Spring Training. If everything goes according to plan, we won’t have to wait until game 161 to earn a playoff spot.