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Brewers: 3 things to watch when the shortened season begins

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 01: Christian Yelich #22 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a two-run home run to extend his team's lead in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 1, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Brewers won 8-6. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 01: Christian Yelich #22 of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a two-run home run to extend his team's lead in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 1, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Brewers won 8-6. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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This Brewers baseball season is going to be an interesting one.

While 60 games doesn’t sound like enough when compared to a typical 162 game season, the approach many of us have to take is similar to how Brewers GM David Stearns described it.  He said “We’re waking up in the middle of the season and it’s a five-way race for the Central Division Championship.”

That being said, a lot can happen in 1.5-2 months of a baseball season.  In this article we are going to highlight 3 things to watch for this 2020 Brewers baseball season.

1. What kind of absurd stat line will Christian Yelich post?

If you thought Christian Yelich‘s superhuman 2018 and 2019 stat lines were incredible, wait until you hear how he performed through his first 60 games in 2019.  His slash line was .346/.449/.760/1.209 that included 25 home runs, 54 RBI’s, and 14 stolen bases.

Yelich really dialed into MVP form half way through his first season in Milwaukee, which was 2018.  His second half performance of 2018 was thought by some to not be sustainable, but in 2019 he proved us wrong by continuing to play at MVP level.  We have no reason to doubt that a full 2020 season wouldn’t have been more of the same from Yelich.  He reported to spring training in March healthy and recovered from the freak injury of a fractured patella that cost him the last month of the 2019 season.

The shortened 60 game season will not allow Yelich to repeat his 40 home run and 30 stolen base season from a year ago, but it will present a unique opportunity to put up some gaudy numbers.  Will he hit over .350?  Is hitting 30 home runs in 60 games a possibility?  Either way I’m excited to see how my MVP will blow my mind this year with his performance on the field!

2. Can the Brewers make it to the playoffs for the third consecutive season?

The playoff format is not changing from most recent MLB seasons.  Playoff teams will be division winners and two wild card teams.  In 2018, the Brewers won the NL Central for the first time since 2011 and in 2019, the Brewers played in the one game wild card in which they lost to the eventual World Series Champion Washington Nationals.

In terms of winning percentages over those two playoff bound seasons, the Brewers won 59% of their games in 2018 and 55% in 2019.  In a 60 game season that is equivocal to winning somewhere between 33 and 36 games. With 40 out of 60 games coming against divisional opponents and the remaining 20 against the American League Central, how many wins will be needed in order to get to the postseason?

While it does seem like a benefit that 18 games will be played against likely non-playoff contenders in the Pirates (10 games), Royals (4 games), and Tigers (4 games), unfortunately the Brewers competition also gets that luxury.  This puts added pressure on winning the games you are suppose to.  For example, not winning three out of four games against the Royals and Tigers would seem like a disappointment.  If the Brewers were to split those series, it would feel deflating from a fans perspective.

In the end, I expect the division race to be tight up until the end.  In a normal season most teams are still in the hunt at the 60 game mark, so I expect nothing less this year.

3. How will the Brewers handle the trade deadline?

The trade deadline is currently set for August 31,2020.  This is slightly over a month into the season and teams will have played just under 40 games at that point if all goes according to plan.  At the time of the trade deadline, teams will have approximately 1/3 of the regular season remaining.

Under Stearns, the Brewers have been very aggressive and successful with trades.  While this has taken its toll on the minor league system, it will be interesting to see how the trade deadline is handled this year.  Will teams trade aggressively knowing that if they bring in a player from a different location they run the risk of that player, and others, catching the virus and thus losing playing time with their new ball club?

Setting aside the COVID issue, is 40 games enough to truly evaluate a players performance?  Is it even enough time to evaluate your own players?  Plus, teams can only trade from their 60 man roster this year and with a potential second wave threatening the postseason, how likely are teams to get good value?

It seems to me that having a deep 60 man roster and bringing up internal options may be the smarter play.

Next. Will New Extra Inning Rule Help Brewers?. dark

In the end, this 2020 season is going to be unlike any other MLB season.  While we will most likely see some great performances from players there will also be several challenges to work around.  Either way I am glad baseball is back.  The Brewers regular season is set to start on either July 23rd or July 24th.

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