Brewers: Studs and Duds From Week Three of Cactus League
By Matt Carroll
Another week of Cactus League play is in the books for the Brewers as we draw closer to the start of the regular season. Last week, we got to see some more debuts (hello, Lorenzo Cain and Devin Williams) as well as some pitchers getting further stretched out in innings.
Milwaukee split the week’s worth of games, going 3-3 over six contests. They scored four or more runs in four of those games and gave up three runs or less in four of them as well.
So who were some of the studs and duds for the Brewers from the third week of Cactus League play? Let’s dig in and take a look.
Stud: Kolten Wong
With there still being an air of uncertainty as to whether the team’s primary leadoff hitter, Lorenzo Cain, will be ready for Opening Day, it remains to be seen who will officially fill that role if he is in fact unavailable. Kolten Wong‘s audition for the spot went quite well last week.
That was actually the second leadoff bomb for the new Brewer second baseman as he hit one earlier in the week off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. All in all, Wong finished the week 3 for 8 with the two homers and three runs scored.
Whether Cain spends games leading off or not, Wong will likely see plenty of time toward the top of the lineup, either in the one or two hole. As a left-handed batter playing half his games at American Family Field, that seems like it will work out pretty well for the Brewers.
Dud: Orlando Arcia
Infielder Orlando Arcia went the most at bats without registering a hit of any Brewers player last week. In three games starting at both shortstop and third base, he ended up going 0 for 7 with three strikeouts and drawing one walk.
That brought his Cactus League slash line down to .226/.250/.323 with 12 strikeouts in 32 plate appearances. He’s had some awkward-looking swings at times during spring training and doesn’t quite yet look like the version of Arcia that had a career-best offensive year in 2020.
Perhaps some of this could be from the added pressure of learning a new position as he has gotten a lot of action at third base during spring training. Either way, he’ll need to look a little better on offense if he doesn’t want to cede playing time to Travis Shaw and Luis Urias in 2021.
Stud: The Brewers’ 1-2 Punch in the Rotation
Last season, the Brewers’ starting rotation featured two pitchers who gave batters fits in right-handers Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes. If spring training has been any indication, that trend will continue in 2021.
Burnes, a legitimate Cy Young candidate from a year ago, looked extremely solid in his start on Thursday, giving up just an unearned run over 3 2/3 innings on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Hitters looked as uncomfortable as usual against him during the game.
Woodruff actually didn’t get a Cactus League game in last week, instead pitching in a club game on the team’s off day on Wednesday. The move would keep him lined up for a second straight Opening Day start for the Crew, an honor that was made official last week as well.
While the Brewers expect their offense to show improvement over the unfortunate version that fans had to watch last year, strong pitching will still be key to their success in 2021. So far it’s looking like, at the very least, the top of the rotation will be dominant once again.
Dud: More Injury Updates
The Brewers did get a little healthier last week as Urias returned to action, playing in four games last week, and Cain, Williams, and catcher Jacob Nottingham made their Cactus League debuts. Still, a couple other players who could contribute in 2021 received bad injury updates.
Utility man Mark Mathias, a fan-favorite who was on our Studs and Duds update last week for his injury, was officially placed on the 60-day injured list on Tuesday. The move will help the Brewers in freeing up a 40-man roster spot, but leaves them without a versatile player for quite a while.
A day earlier, reliever Bobby Wahl, who has already seen his fair share of injuries, was pulled from his outing after just one batter when he appeared to show some discomfort on the mound. Later, it would be learned per Will Sammon of The Athletic that he will be starting the year on the injured list.
Stay tuned for our final weekly Cactus League update next week. After that, it will be about time for some regular season Brewers baseball!