Brewers: Predicting the 2021 Opening Day Starting Lineup
4. RF Avisail Garcia
Things get a little tricky here in the four spot as the Brewers don’t necessarily have an obviously identified cleanup hitter on the roster right now. A few names could potentially work here, but let’s go with one of the hitters who was hot from the jump this spring in Avisail Garcia.
Garcia is yet another Milwaukee player looking to rebound from a disappointing 2020 campaign that saw him slash .238/.333/.326 with just two homers and 15 runs driven in. Being pressed into center field duty may have exacerbated the issue, but, regardless, it surely wasn’t the first impression he was expecting to make.
Garcia came to camp as a “best shape of his life” candidate and has looked solid all spring, batting .324 with a .937 OPS and three dingers. Like Hiura, he could stand to be more patient (12 strikeouts to just one walk this spring) but he seems prepared to join the ranks of Brewers bouncebacks.
5. CF Jackie Bradley Jr
The toughest decision to make in this starting lineup was whether to go with Cain or new Brewer Jackie Bradley Jr. Cain seems to think he will be ready to go by Opening Day, but he has played in just three Cactus League games for the Crew as opposed to Bradley Jr’s six.
But availability isn’t the only factor in play here. We already know that the Twins plan to deploy right-hander Kenta Maeda as their Opening Day starter, so by playing the matchups, it makes sense to go with the left-handed Bradley Jr over the right-handed Cain.
Bradley Jr put up one of the better offensive seasons in his career in 2020 with a .283/.364/.450 slash line in 55 games. Brewers fans will be excited to see how that offense combined with his Gold Glove defense plays out and they’ll get their chance right away on Opening Day.
6. C Omar Narvaez
Once again, we’re playing the matchup here as the Brewers have the option of rolling with a left-hander or a right-hander at catcher on Opening Day. Omar Narvaez is the team’s lefty backstop and will get a chance right away at putting a dreadful 2020 season in the rearview.
Narvaez has been one of the hottest hitters this spring by the numbers with a .321 average and a blazing 1.207 OPS with three doubles and three homers to his name. That’s already more homers and almost more doubles (two and four, respectively) than he had in 40 games in 2020.
It’s also far better than his .176 average and .562 OPS from last year, and though his 10 strikeouts in 35 plate appearances (28.6%) are still quite a bit higher than his career rate, his six walks are encouraging. His numbers honestly almost could have justified a cleanup role, but we’ll temper expectations for now and leave him at No. 6.