All three are set to return to the Brewers in 2021, but will they get the opportunity to show their injuries are just a thing of the past?
Teams like the Brewers can plan for just about anything that comes at them over the course of a baseball season. What’s almost impossible to plan for, however, are injuries, and Milwaukee had their share of them in 2020.
There was Ryan Braun‘s lingering back injury, Brett Anderson‘s recurring blister issue, and also Corbin Burnes‘ oblique injury that may have cost him a shot at a Cy Young. Those injuries, though, were relatively minor in nature and only affected a small number of games per player.
Other players weren’t so lucky and missed a much larger portion of the 2020 season. So with those injuries hopefully in the rearview and a new season on the horizon, here are a trio of Brewers who will be looking to put their injuries behind them and bounce back in 2021.
C Manny Pina
Veteran Brewers catcher Manny Pina was on a tear to start 2020. He had hits in eight of his first ten games, had a 1.012 OPS over that span, and had fans wondering if he should take the starting catcher’s job outright. Then a torn meniscus in his right knee suffered on August 27th prematurely ended his season.
The 33-year-old was signed to a one-year deal ahead of the non-tender deadline last week and should be good to go for 2021. He might need to be. Should Omar Narvaez have another disappointing season, the Brewers will a different backstop to pick up the slack, offensively.
RHP Ray Black
Technically, it wasn’t the end of the season that reliever Ray Black missed, it was the beginning. It just so happened to be a lot of games after that too as a rotator cuff injury not only landed him on the 10-day injured list to start the season, but the 45-day IL later on. Black would finally be activated in mid September and pitch in three games down the stretch.
Black has an uphill battle on his way to attempt a bounce back with the Brewers next season. Though he possesses potentially electric stuff with a fastball that can touch 100, he hasn’t yet shown a full ability to harness his control in games. With no minor league options left, he’ll need to stand out in Spring Training to ensure he gets the chance to pitch for the Brewers in 2021.
RHP Bobby Wahl
Fellow fireballing righty Bobby Wahl was supposed to finally get the chance to show Brewers fans what he could do after missing all of 2019 due to injury right after being acquired. He completed the first step by making the 2020 Opening Day roster. Three earned runs in 2 1/3 innings earned him a quick demotion, though, and a reported arm issue kept him at the Alternate Training Site for the rest of the year.
With his repertoire, a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider, it was once thought that Wahl could be in the mix for a possible high-leverage bullpen role with the Brewers. The hope is that 2021 will give him the opportunity to put enough innings together to prove that could still be the case.
Injuries are a part of the game and 2020 was no exception. Hopefully these three can put last season behind them and play plenty of games in 2021.