Milwaukee Brewers: Can they win the 2018 World Series?

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 22: Manager Craig Counsell
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 22: Manager Craig Counsell /

The Milwaukee Brewers need to infuse their pitching staff to make a serious push for the 2018 World Series. Their current roster is not better than the best of the rest.

The Milwaukee Brewers finished the 2017 season just one game short of the Colorado Rockies for entry into the postseason. The club overcame several obstacles to earn its wins. An argument could be made that it shouldn’t take much more for the Brewers to win the 2018 World Series.

In January, the Brewers let the league know they were blowing out of rebuild mode by adding Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain.

Brewers lineup and bench from 2017 into 2018

The 2017 Milwaukee Brewers suffered through a poor season from  two key players. 2016 breakout lead off hitter Jonathon Villar fell off and Ryan Braun had  a sub-par, injury-plagued season.

Keon Broxton struck out too often, but he accumulated over 20 home runs and steals for the Milwaukee Brewers last year.

Manny Pina and Orlando Arcia gave the Brewers more than most expected them to as hitters. Plus, April hero Eric Thames raised his OPS back over 1.000 during October after slumping badly mid-season.

Meanwhile, Domingo Santana and Travis Shaw led the team in hitting. Both players contributed an OPS over .850, which is All-Star-worthy.

Brett Phillips will potentially add more to the team in 2018, and the Brewers kept effective utility men Hernan Perez and Eric Sogard. Perez and Sogard will help at second base and other positions. Milwaukee’s bench looks good.

A second-year regression or “sophomore slump” could affect the Milwaukee Brewers offense. But, after acquiring Yelich and Cain, the team’s depth should overcome even the random hitter off-year.

Why the Brewers need to add pitching to compete for a 2018 World Series

The 2018 Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff is more fragile than the lineup. Potential sophomore slumps could ruin the Brewers in 2018.

As of February, the club has not added an experienced reliever in case Josh Hader or second-year closer Corey Knebel do not replicate their 2017 effectiveness.

Furthermore, the club already lost setup reliever Anthony Swarzak to free agency. Swarzak was terrific for the Brewers down the stretch last season. He worked to a 2.48 ERA with the club in 2017.

The Brewers did add veterans Ernesto Frieri, Matt Albers, Boone Logan and J.J. Hoover for bullpen depth to address the potential regression of Hader and Knebel. That being said, only two of those relievers might make the team. Also, Albers is the best of that list and he is in his late thirties.

Milwaukee cannot completely depend on this group.

Also, the Milwaukee Brewers added starting pitchers Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo during the off season. The club likely acquired these players to eat innings and save the bullpen from being overworked. However, they are hardly a guarantee to accomplish that.

Chacin has never pitched 200 innings in a season and Gallardo has not eaten up that many innings since 2012.

Jimmy Nelson broke out as the Milwaukee Brewers ace last year, but he will be injured to start next season.

Nelson’s injury means the Brewers will rely on Chase Anderson and Zach Davies as their top two starters to begin 2018 if the roster remains unchanged.

Anderson added 10 pounds of muscle, which increased his velocity and effectiveness as a starter for 2017. However, even this new-and-improved Anderson does not equal the type of ace other playoff teams have.

What’s difference between a playoff spot and a World Series?

The Dodgers have future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. The Nationals have Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. Even the fringe playoff team in San Francisco has postseason legend Madison Bumgarner.

Within the Milwaukee Brewers division, the Cubs currently have the powerful top three of Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana.

If the Brewers are truly “all-in,” for 2018, they should reinforce their starting rotation and bullpen to compete with the other top-level teams. The club does not have to break the bank on Yu Darvish or empty their Minor Leagues making a trade for Chris Archer.

Next: Who Is On The Roster Bubble?

The Milwaukee Brewers will need to add starting pitcher Lance Lynn and reliever Tyler Clippard through free agency if they want to win a World Series as early as 2018. Otherwise, the more realistic goal is a narrow playoff birth and continued growth towards that championship level.