Milwaukee Brewers: Key takeaways from the opening series

SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 31: Eric Thames
SAN DIEGO, CA - MARCH 31: Eric Thames /

The Milwaukee Brewers are one of four unbeaten teams after Major League Baseball’s opening weekend. What did we learn in the first three games of the season?

The Milwaukee Brewers started the season with an unusual roster, and a new look offense. They managed to sweep the Padres in the opening series. The Brewers still have a chance at going 162-0.

There were also three important observations from the opening series that could impact the rest of the season.

Ryan Braun can handle first base

Ryan Braun started two games for the Milwaukee Brewers at first base, and he was perfectly fine. He made all the plays he needed to make, and was never caught out of position.

The switch to first will hopefully reduce the amount of wear and tear on Braun’s body, and allow him to stay on the field. He’s going to get his rest days, but he won’t have to dive or stretch for fly balls as much this year.

The rotation is dangerously thin

It was clear that the Milwaukee Brewers were going to miss Jimmy Nelson in the first half of the season. However, it seems like his impact was underestimated. The Brewers lack a starting pitcher who can rack up strikeouts, eat up innings, and stop losing streaks.

Nelson made 29 starts last year, and averaged just under six innings per start. He also lead the team with 17 quality starts, and averaged over a strikeout per inning.

Chase Anderson and Zach Davies are quality starters, but they would look a lot better slotted behind Nelson than at the top of the Brewers rotation.

A lot more was expected out of Jhoulys Chacin, and Brent Suter needs to show a lot more than he did in the third game against the Padres. If there’s another injury to the starting rotation, and the Brewers could be in trouble.

Josh Hader is fantastic

Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader faced 11 batters in two appearances in the opening series. He allowed one walk and one hit. He struck out seven of the remaining nine batters he faced. There’s a non-zero chance that Hader is the best reliever in the bullpen. The only concern was that he didn’t try to throw a change up. If he wants to get into the starting rotation, he needs to develop his change up into a reliable third pitch.

Next: Could Braun get dealt to the Dodgers?

The Milwaukee Brewers return to Miller Park on Monday for an early series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Davies gets the call for the Brew Crew, and Miles Mikolas makes his first start for the Redbirds. This series presents a bigger challenge for the Brewers than the series with the Padres did. Winning in the NL Central is imperative if the Brewers are serious about returning to the playoffs.