The Milwaukee Brewers have their sights set on not just the postseason in 2019, but they’re looking for a World Series title.
There are keys to success for every single team heading into the regular season. Some teams just have a better chance of finding those keys and achieving that success. The Milwaukee Brewers are one of those teams.
For the regular season, success will be defined as defending the NL Central title and making it back-to-back years on top of the division. The division did not get any easier to win over the offseason. Here are five things that need to happen for the Brewers to repeat as division champions this season.
5. Getting The Bullpen At Full Strength
Last year, the Milwaukee Brewers rode a three headed monster of Jeremy Jeffress, Josh Hader, and Corey Knebel in their bullpen to that division title. Now Jeffress is out for the first few weeks and Knebel is out indefinitely with a UCL issue. That three headed monster is down to one healthy head in Josh Hader. Although he’s the most dominant of the group, it’s not as scary as having all three heads.
Doesn’t sound as scary, does it?
Those are quality pitchers, don’t get me wrong, but with Hader generally needing 1-3 days of rest between outings and rarely pitching on back-to-back days, the bullpen will be a little vulnerable.
The sooner this group can get back to full health, the better.
Jeffress is supposed to return in mid-April and that will help with the later innings. Knebel is a wild card right now. He’s out indefinitely and might end up missing only a few weeks, a few months, or he could miss the whole season. It’s completely up in the air at this point.
Many fans will push for the Milwaukee Brewers to sign free agent closer Craig Kimbrel in order to solidify this group. When all healthy, that would be a dominant, shutdown bullpen. And if Knebel does miss a long period of time, Kimbrel would replace him. But it’s not that easy as just signing Kimbrel.
For one thing, Kimbrel has only lasted this long because of his astronomical asking price for his contract, and it’s unknown what he’d be willing to settle for. Also, Kimbrel would cost a draft pick to sign. The Brewers have already surrendered their Comp A pick for Alex Claudio and their third highest pick for signing Yasmani Grandal this offseason. Would the Brewers really want to give up three early selections in one draft?
Understandably, those draft picks likely won’t contribute during this championship window, so there’s some logic in just giving up the draft pick to help win now. But at the same time, GM David Stearns wants to keep the team competitive year-after-year, not just in spurts of competing and rebuilding.
The Brewers don’t need Kimbrel. They just need to be healthy.