Last season, we saw the greatest starting rotation in the history of the Brewers franchise. In total, they set or tied 77 MLB and franchise records. It felt like no matter who was on the bump, opposing teams were going to have to have their work cut out for them in order to scratch across any runs.
The rotation was led by Cy Young award winner Corbin Burnes with Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta being very dominant as well. Adrian Houser additionally had a career year and Eric Lauer pitched incredibly well in the second half of the season.
Thankfully, that same group of pitchers is set to return in 2022. Due to the MLB lockout, we’re not sure when we will get to see these pitchers on the mound carving up hitters again. However, Dan Szymborski recently posted his projections for the Crew in 2022. Szymborski’s projection model is known as ZiPS, and a few other observations on his projections can be found here.
According to the ZiPS projections, the Brewers starting rotation consisting of the five players mentioned earlier, will produce an fWAR of 16.4. In comparison, this group had a 19.4 fWAR in 2021.
Yes, you are reading that correctly. Milwaukee’s beloved starting rotation from last season is expected to perform three points lower in 2022. You might find yourself asking “How is that possible?”. As mentioned earlier, let’s try to make some sense of this by remembering how special last year’s Crew was.
To begin, Corbin Burnes began 2021 issuing 58 strikeouts before allowing a walk. He later went on to have a 15 strikeout game including 10 K’s in a row. Burnes then pitched eight innings in the team’s first ever combined no-hitter against Cleveland. In total, Burnes was responsible for setting or tying 45 MLB or franchise records.
Of the others, Brandon Woodruff was responsible for setting 10 out of the 77 Brewer/MLB records broke last year. Freddy Peralta set one more record than Woodruff with 11. Let’s also not forget that Adrian Houser was the first pitcher since Kyle Lohse in 2014 to throw a complete game shutout.
The point here is that we should not be surprised to see our starting pitching core projected to be “worse” in 2022. To repeat what they did last year would be a very tough task, but they still should be very good and have the potential to outperform Szymborski’s projections.
Throughout the remainder of this article, we will take a further look at each starter’s individual projections.