Milwaukee Brewers: Opening Day Roster Predictions With 3 Weeks To Go
By David Gasper
The Milwaukee Brewers have three weeks left until Opening Day and they’ll have to get their roster down to 25 players. Here are our predictions for that roster.
The three weeks left of Spring Training can’t end soon enough for most of us. The Milwaukee Brewers are halfway through their spring training and some roster spots are becoming clear, while some are still up in the air.
The Opening Day rosters are not as meaningful as they used to be. With the way the Brewers have utilized their 40 man roster over the past few years, plenty of players will go up and down and changes will be made. Last year, Ji-Man Choi made the Opening Day roster but was sent down the next day. But it’s still important for fans to see who made the roster and we like to guess who will make it.
So with three weeks until Opening Day, here’s our guess for what that roster will look like.
Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Ben Gamel, Christian Yelich
Braun is due $19 million this year. Cain is due $15 million and is coming off a great season. Gamel was acquired for the purpose of being the 4th outfielder this year and has his spot pretty much locked up. Christian Yelich is the reigning NL MVP.
The outfield group is pretty much cut and dry and there aren’t likely to be any surprises here. If there is one, look for Tyrone Taylor. If he continues to make noise in Spring Training, he might make the team and Craig Counsell did say we’d likely see Taylor in Milwaukee at some point this year. Opening Day is a big stretch though, barring injury.
Jesus Aguilar, Orlando Arcia, Mike Moustakas, Hernan Perez, Travis Shaw, Eric Thames
Aguilar is the starting first baseman coming off an All-Star season. Arcia is the starting shortstop and ended last year on a high note. He’ll get another chance to prove he can hit in the big leagues and still be the future at shortstop for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Moustakas is going to be the full-time second baseman and Perez will back him up, as well as be the backup for every other infield position. Shaw is the starting third baseman and Eric Thames makes the roster with his $6 million salary this year.
Fringe roster candidates such as Cory Spangenberg and Tyler Saladino were effectively pushed off the roster when Moustakas signed his contract. Prospects Mauricio Dubon and Keston Hiura are going to start the year in Triple-A, the Brewers have already confirmed that multiple times.
Yasmani Grandal, Manny Pina
Grandal is set to be the starting catcher and he’ll see the bulk of the reps this year. He’s been working with the pitching staff a lot this spring and he’ll bring plenty of offensive firepower to the plate this season.
Pina is currently ahead of Erik Kratz on the depth chart for the backup catcher job. Both catchers are out of minor league options. If the Milwaukee Brewers had to choose between DFAing 31 year old Manny Pina or 38 year old Erik Kratz, they’d probably choose Kratz.
Starting Pitchers (5)
Chase Anderson, Corbin Burnes, Jhoulys Chacin, Zach Davies, Jimmy Nelson
Although I, and probably many others, would prefer to see Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff make the rotation ahead of guys like Chase Anderson and Zach Davies, I don’t think that’s the route the Milwaukee Brewers will go, at least to start the season.
Chacin is guaranteed a spot according to Craig Counsell and Corbin Burnes is “100 percent” going into the rotation in 2019, so it’s pretty easy to see both of them in there.
Jimmy Nelson, if healthy and ready to go by Opening Day, and I believe he will be, then he’ll be in the starting rotation.
Anderson is due $6.5 million and has made some changes to his delivery this offseason to prevent a repeat of his struggles last season. If he’s not injured and not traded by Opening Day, he’s going to make this rotation.
The same goes for Davies. If he’s in the organization and healthy, I think he’ll get the rotation spot based on his experience. His ceiling isn’t as high as someone like Peralta or Woodruff, but he’s a decent innings-eater.
It was a tough call for the fifth spot for me. It was down to Davies and Woodruff, but with all the extra big league experience Davies has, it makes more sense to go with him, even though him and Woodruff are the same age. The Brewers want to get Davies back on track and are hopeful for a bounceback campaign for him. If that doesn’t work, then Woodruff will be the first to step in.
Matt Albers, Jacob Barnes, Alex Claudio, Junior Guerra, Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, Jake Petricka, Brandon Woodruff
There’s a notable name missing from this bullpen group. Jeremy Jeffress has struggled with shoulder soreness/weakness this spring and has only thrown three pitches in Cactus league play. Craig Counsell admitted Jeffress is in danger of missing Opening Day. It’ll be tight, and for the purpose of this roster prediction, we’ll operate as if he’ll be on the DL to start the season.
That makes Corey Knebel the de facto closer with Josh Hader serving as the multi inning setup man. Claudio serves as the other lefty in the bullpen. Counsell has already confirmed Matt Albers will make this roster. Those four are virtual locks.
The other four spots are up in the air. Junior Guerra stands a good chance to make the team as a long reliever and even though Brandon Woodruff missed out on the rotation in these predictions, I think he still makes the bullpen.
Jacob Barnes and Jake Petricka are toss-ups. Those two will be up and down a lot this year and will be interchangeable with Taylor Williams, Adrian Houser, Aaron Wilkerson, Jay Jackson, and others. But Barnes still throws hard and could serve as another late inning reliever with Jeffress missing some time in these predictions. Petricka is almost 31, but as a veteran arm, could win out over some of the younger, more inexperienced pitchers.
The start of the season is just three weeks away. The Milwaukee Brewers still have a lot to figure out with this roster, mainly on the pitching staff. The positions player group is mostly set.