Spring Training is here, which means baseball is so close you can taste it. While there are some ideas as to who will be on the Opening Day Roster, as the Brewers take on the Twins April 1st, there is still plenty of roster spots left to be won.
Here are 4 battles to make sure to keep an eye on as Spring Training progresses.
Brewers Roster Battles: 5th Rotation Spot
Behind Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff there are some questions in the rotation. It seems likely that Josh Lindblom and Adrian Houser will return. Even assuming Lindblom and Houser are starters, that leaves the fifth spot unsure. Last season, it was occupied by Brett Anderson, who was brought back on a one year.
Looking at the current makeup of the 40-man roster, besides Anderson, the two most likely pitchers to end up in the fifth spot of the rotation are Eric Lauer, and Freddy Peralta. Both of whom have made starts before in their careers.
Lauer is a lefty, who had an unfortunate season last year in his limited playing time. Lauer is able to avoid barrels and hopefully will be able to shake off last season and rebound in a strong way.
With Peralta, there is another level of intrigue. He is still only 24-years old, and has good stuff. He looked good last season, getting strikeouts and whiffs, while also avoiding hard hit balls.
As Spring Training starts, the Brewers have several position battles to keep an eye on. Among them: 3rd base, shortstop, the final rotation spot and bullpen spots.
Craig Counsell has never been afraid to explore unconventional methods of roster building and pitching usage (see: initial out-getter). It is possible that given Peralta’s struggles in the first inning, Counsell goes to some opener set up, or perhaps even a tandem where one pitcher goes for three, another goes for three, and then the bullpen shuts it down.
Even if Peralta or Lauer are not in the rotation at the start of the year, it appears a near certainty they will each make at least one spot start for the Brewers at some point, as blisters arise, teams go a long stretch without an off-day, lots of things come up where more than the five initial starters are called upon to make a start.
It is not out of the question that the Brewers made an addition late into the Spring, be it by trade, by signing, or a waiver pick up. However, unless that happens, or a non-roster invitee makes a splash, it appears Peralta, or Lauer will be chasing Brett Anderson for the fifth spot in the rotation.