With Ryan Braun likely spending time at DH in 2020, the Brewers might need more backup in the outfield. Enter the speedy spark plug with the flowing locks.
Earlier this year as the original regular season was approaching, outfielder Ben Gamel was right on the bubble of making the Brewers’ 26-man Opening Day roster. A .207/.258/.345 slash line in Spring Training wasn’t helping matters.
Still, with fellow outfielder Ryan Braun planning to spend time between outfield as well as at first base with newly acquired Justin Smoak, Gamel was probably trending towards getting a spot. But it was going to be close.
Now, with 30-man rosters to start the shortened season, Gamel should be a lock for a roster spot, as we mentioned in our earlier Opening Day roster prediction. But once rosters drop back down to 26 players four weeks after the season begins, that spot could be in jeopardy again.
In Milwaukee’s recent player scrimmages, however, Gamel has been performing like a player who would be very hard to leave off the active roster. It started early with the type of hustle play that fans have come to love from the outfielder.
Gamel did nothing but pick up steam from there. While there have been no official stats kept during these scrimmages, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel compared him favorably to his teammates offensively on Twitter.
Gamel’s strong performance isn’t just good news because it increases his chance for a roster spot. But because of rule changes for the reduced season, the team may need him to contribute more than originally expected.
As everyone knows by now, the National League will be using the designated hitter for the 2020 season. The Brewers have several players who could fill that role this year, but one of the top candidates is Ryan Braun.
By placing Braun at designated hitter, it allows him to reduce a bit of the wear and tear on his body, which is always good considering the lingering injuries he’s dealt with the last few years. Plus, it means less games playing at first base, a position he’s much less familiar with defensively.
Originally, Braun was going to have to get his playing time at first base and outfield, the latter solution taking playing opportunities away from Gamel. Now that the designated hitter is in the mix, that opens some opportunities in the outfield.
With Braun tied up in other responsibilities, Gamel’s presence will be important this season. Since he can back up every outfield position, there should be plenty of playing time available to him.
Gamel will have another week and a half to keep making a strong case for himself. If he stays on the same pace, that roster spot is his to lose.