Brewers: Predicting the 2021 Opening Day Starting Lineup
7. 3B Travis Shaw
The Mayor of Ding Dong City is back! After a platoon situation at third base in 2020 that was….something, the Brewers shored up the position by bringing back Travis Shaw, who signed to a minor league deal with an early spring opt out, but was added to the 40-man a couple weeks ago.
According to manager Craig Counsell, Shaw will be splitting time with Orlando Arcia at third with the latter having gotten plenty of practice there this spring. But this decision is matchup driven again and Shaw’s lefty bat will play better in this game than Arcia’s right-handed one.
Shaw would actually be one of the more prototypical cleanup options on the team, having started 235 games there in ’17 and ’18 for the Brewers. But he hasn’t been as hot as some of the other hitters this spring and though his 2020 numbers were better than his 2019 ones (.239/.306/.411 vs .157/.281/.270) he’ll need to work his way back up from the bottom third of the order.
8. SS Luis Urias
This is probably the second-hardest decision to make when it comes to the Opening Day starting lineup. Do the Brewers go with the young shortstop acquisition from two offseasons ago, or the team veteran who has started the last four Opening Days at the position?
Like at third base, Counsell stated that Arcia will be likely sharing starts at shortstop with Luis Urias. Arcia is coming off the best offensive season (.260/.317/.416, 96 OPS+) of his career, while Urias started off hot with a .286 average and .712 OPS through the first 25 games of his Brewers debut before tailing off significantly after that.
This comes down to the spring numbers, though. Urias’ bat has come alive as of late, bringing his Cactus League slash line to .259/.394/.481 while Arcia has trended in the opposite direction, dropping to .206/.229/.294. Based off of that, Urias has earned the Opening Day start.
9. P Brandon Woodruff
This one is only a half prediction. We already know that staff ace Brandon Woodruff has been named the team’s Opening Day starting pitcher for the second year in a row, the first Brewers pitcher to hold that honor since Yovani Gallardo worked his fifth straight Opening Day in 2014.
What’s changed, though, is that this time, Woodruff gets to hit during his Opening Day start! Unless the league decides on a last second addition of a universal DH, Woody will get his first at bat since the 2019 season when he batted .267 with four doubles and four runs driven in.
There’s a non-zero chance that Woodruff could be moved up a spot here as he was slotted into the eight hole for four starts back in 2019. But we’ll stay with the classic configuration of the pitcher batting last and just be happy we get to see Woody taking hacks again.
There you have it, our Opening Day starting lineup prediction. The best part is that it’s just one week until we get to see whether this matches the real thing.