Brewers Opening Day is finally here! As the Brewers take on their divisional rivals to start the season, here are some things to watch for in the series.
It’s hard to believe that the 2020 Brewers season is actually here. If the global pandemic that shut the season down in the first place didn’t keep baseball away from the fans, it looked for a while like disagreements between the owners and MLB Players’ Union would finish the job.
Yet here we are: Brewers Opening Day, and against the team’s originally scheduled Opening Day opponents, the Chicago Cubs, no less. So as we countdown the final hours to the first regular season game of the 2020 Brewers season, here are some storylines to watch out for during this weekend’s opening series.
How will the Brewers newbies fare?
We all know by now how significant the roster turnover was for the Brewers over the offseason. Both at the plate and on the mound, there are a ton of Milwaukee debuts fans have been just waiting to see. Now we finally get to see if those moves will pay off.
Omar Narvaez, Justin Smoak, Avisail Garcia, and Eric Sogard (here for his second stint as a Brewer) all figure to get plenty of playing time at the plate this weekend with Brock Holt, Logan Morrison, and Jedd Gyorko providing added punch. Watch for ex-Cub David Phelps to play a big role in the bullpen as well. The time is now to see if GM David Stearns made the right moves this offseason.
Can the Brewers continue recent success against Cubs?
Streaky would be a great way to describe the Brewers season against the Cubs in 2019. The season series started with Milwaukee winning five of the first eight matchups, saw Chicago take the next five in a row, and finished with the Brewers winning five of the final six. The final victory gave Milwaukee a 10-9 series win.
The Brewers certainly have their work cut out for them in their quest to win the season series against the Cubs for a second straight year. Seven of the ten games in this year’s series take place in Wrigley Field. And even though Milwaukee players don’t have to deal with the….friendly Cubs fans, travel in the middle of a global pandemic can still cause plenty of emotional stress. Even with no fans in the stands, winning on the road won’t be easy.
A strong start in the NL Central is imperative
To say that the NL Central will be a dogfight this season would be quite the understatement. Predictions across the internet have the top four teams – the Brewers, Cubs, Cardinals, and Reds – finishing in a variety of different orders. Dan Szymborski’s most recent ZiPS projections at FanGraphs have the Cubs finishing with 32 wins with the other three all finishing right behind them at 31.
Any chance to win a series and control a tiebreaker will be huge considering how close the top four NL Central teams are expected to finish. A series win over the Cubs would go a long way toward achieving that goal. Additionally, with the first half of Milwaukee’s schedule being more road-heavy, winning as many road games as possible early would help set up for a strong second half finish.
First pitch for tonight’s Brewers game at Wrigley Field is scheduled to take place at 6:10pm CST. It may have been just under four months later than expected, but Brewers baseball is about to be back!