Spring training 2.0 is going to kick off soon and that means the resumption of Brewers position battles. Here’s a quick refresher.
It’s been a long three and a half months since baseball was postponed back in the middle of March. In case you forgot, just a few days prior to the shutdown, Christian Yelich signed a massive contract extension, the Brewers were playing well, and position battles were coming down to the wire.
We were only two weeks away from Opening Day at the time of the shutdown. Now, we’re about a month away from the regular season, but spring training 2.0 is starting in about a week. With that, let’s get refreshed on some camp battles for roster spots.
The Starting Shortstop Job
Orlando Arcia has been the Brewers incumbent starting shortstop since late 2016. He’s hit some rough patches over the past two seasons and his job was in jeopardy heading into 2020. GM David Stearns acquired Luis Urias from the Padres last November to provide some competition for Arcia at the position.
That seemed to have lit a fire under Arcia, as he dominated in the spring with a reworked swing and some newfound power. In 11 spring games, Arcia hit .296 with a .926 SLG, 1.236 OPS and five home runs. Seven of Arcia’s eight hits went for extra bases and his five home runs led the team.
Luis Urias suffered a broken hamate bone during the offseason and needed surgery. He was just about ready to return to the field when the season was postponed. In fact, he was going to make his Cactus League debut the same day that baseball screeched to a halt.
All this extra time has given Urias more time to heal and his wrist should easily be 100%. Hamate bone injuries can seriously hinder a player’s hitting ability and rushing them back could be counter-productive but now that’s no longer a concern.
With the three week spring training 2.0, the Brewers will finally get a true position battle between Arcia and Urias for the starting job.
The Final Rotation Spot
The Milwaukee Brewers haven’t had a starting pitching group this deep in a long time. They have seven or eight legitimate big league starting options in a group led by Brandon Woodruff. Also in that group is Adrian Houser, Brett Anderson, Josh Lindblom, Freddy Peralta, Eric Lauer, and Corbin Burnes.
Woodruff, Houser, Anderson, and Lindblom are all pretty much locks for the rotation provided they remain healthy through training camp.
That leaves one spot for Peralta, Lauer, and Burnes in a traditional rotation. Lauer was going to miss the start of the season with a shoulder impingement after posting a 1.69 ERA in three appearances prior. With the extra three months, Lauer’s shoulder should be ready to go this time around.
With a shortened season and an abbreviated spring, perhaps the Brewers will get creative with how they line up their starters. In the early going of the season, starters are most likely to have shorter outings. Perhaps manager Craig Counsell will look to have some tandem starts, with one starter going the first four innings and another starter going the next four innings.
If anyone can find creative solutions to get all seven starters in there when healthy, it’s Craig Counsell.
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The Milwaukee Brewers have plenty of depth at every position and appear to be in a good spot to navigate a 60 game season. Regardless, these camp battles will be all important to watch.