Teams are about to report for Spring Training 2.0 and rosters will need to be set. With some new rules in place, who makes the Brewers Opening Day roster in this second iteration of the 2020 season?
As Spring Training was coming to an end earlier this year, the Brewers were still working on finalizing their Opening Day roster. Before any of them could do so, though, MLB would end up postponing the 2020 season for months.
Now the current season is set to restart, which means another Spring Training and once again determining who gets to start the season on the active roster. There are many rule tweaks that come with this unique, shortened season, and that news affects rosters as well.
Rosters were already going to look different this year with the switch from a 25-man to 26-man roster, but now teams will have even more players at their disposal for each game, at least to start. And unlike with the 26-man roster where there was a 13-pitcher limit, no such similar restrictions are in place for the 30-man roster.
Teams will have a few weeks to re-evaluate and decide who will be among the 30 players to participate in this new Opening Day. Let’s take a crack at figuring out who those players might be.
Catchers (2): Omar Narvaez, Manny Pina
It is entirely possible that the Brewers decide to carry a third catcher considering the extra roster spots. However, Narvaez will get plenty of starts to continue learning his new pitchers and Pina will get plenty of reps as well.
Plus, with rosters shrinking back to 26 players after just four weeks, that third catcher wouldn’t last long on the roster anyway. So, we’ll give that extra roster spot to someone who will get used more.
Infielders (8): Orlando Arcia, Jedd Gyorko, Keston Hiura, Brock Holt, Logan Morrison, Justin Smoak, Eric Sogard, Luis Urias
One of the few actual benefits that resulted for the Brewers on account of the shutdown was their players who were nursing injuries getting healthy again. That includes Urias, who joins five other infielders in making their first Opening Day starts in a Milwaukee uniform.
Morrison was a likely odd man out earlier this year when looking at smaller rosters for a smaller season. Now, with 30 roster spots, as well as the implementation of the universal DH, which gives him more options for playing time, the potential that he showed during Spring Training 1.0 is too good to leave off the roster.
Outfielders (5): Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain, Ben Gamel, Avisail Garcia, Christian Yelich
Five outfielders may not seem like much, but the versatility of the infielders helps the team in this regard. Holt has played all outfield positions in his career and could be utilized as a backup, while Morrison has played 256 career games in the outfield and could possibly be used in a pinch as well. (Most of those games came in 2012 or earlier, but he did play a couple games in left field for the Twins in 2018.)
When we originally looked at a rumored 29-man roster back in March with different rules in place, Tyrone Taylor made our projected roster as a backup outfielder. But with different rules that make Morrison a more appealing roster candidate, Taylor starts the year off the roster this time.
Starting Pitchers (5): Brett Anderson, Adrian Houser, Eric Lauer, Josh Lindblom, Brandon Woodruff
Anderson and Lindblom are locks for the starting rotation as they were brought in specifically to start, as is Woodruff, the team’s eventual ace from 2019. Manager Craig Counsell had penciled Houser into the rotation as well, which we mentioned in our Spring Training rotation update earlier this year.
Counsell also mentioned at that time that the final rotation spot was down to Eric Lauer, Corbin Burnes, or Freddy Peralta. A shoulder injury suffered at the end of Spring Training had jeopardized that chance for Lauer, but reports are that he is now healthy. That combined with a strong, however short, showing in spring gives him a slight nod over Freddy and Corbin.
Relief Pitchers (10): Ray Black, Corbin Burnes, Alex Claudio, Justin Grimm, Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, Peralta, David Phelps, Brent Suter, Devin Williams
One of the big wild cards here is whether minor league options come into play with regards to switching players between the 30-man roster and the 40-man roster or taxi squad that teams are allowed to carry this year. It’s unclear whether that’s the case, which means we’ll be safe and leave a player like Black, who has no minor league options remaining, on the roster.
Williams isn’t a lock since he does actually have options remaining, but the team’s familiarity with him from last year gives him a spot over other fringe candidates like Bobby Wahl, Angel Perdomo, and J.P. Feyereisen. A strong showing in July’s second Spring Training would certainly help his case, though.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Brewers roster shakes out in such a different type of season. At least we will finally have rosters to even watch again.