Corbin Burnes – 2022 ZiPS Projection: 5.2 fWAR
Of the Brewers starting pitchers, Burnes’ 2022 ZiPS projections vs his 2021 actual fWAR has the biggest drop off. This is mainly due to how insanely good he was last season in which during his Cy Young season, he recorded the highest fWAR among pitchers at 7.5. Zack Wheeler was a close second at 7.3, but then there was a big decrease following that in which Walker Buehler was at 5.5 and Max Scherzer 5.4.
To expect Burnes to repeat and post an fWAR near 7.5 again would be unfair. However, over the past two seasons, Burnes has been pitching at an elite level. During the shortened 60 game season in 2020, he posted a 2.4 fWAR. If he continues to pitch well, surpassing 5.2 fWAR in 2022 could be within reach, but if he doesn’t and ends up near five that is still a very solid season.
Brandon Woodruff – 2022 ZiPS Projection: 4.9 fWAR
In this projection model, Woodruff gets a .2 increase in 2022 when compared to his 4.7 fWAR in 2021. This is exciting considering that last year Woodruff covered 179 innings for the Brewers while recording a 2.56 ERA. Of his 30 starts, he actually ended with a losing record as a pitcher at 9-10 due to often times being plagued with little run support.
One way Woodruff could see an even further uptick in fWAR next year is by pitching more innings. He is often times viewed as “the horse” for the Brewers, but following a shortened 2020 season a six man rotation was adopted last season which may have prevented him from surpassing the 200 innings pitched mark. It is unclear what the Crew’s intentions will be for the upcoming season.
Woodruff did finish fifth in Cy Young voting last season, so if these projections come to fruition then he would one of the top candidates for the award again.
Freddy Peralta – 2022 ZiPS Projection: 3.4 fWAR
Speaking of innings pitched, Freddy Peralta set a career high in innings pitched in 2021, but could benefit from throwing even more. Last year, his 144 innings was just short of being able to qualify for any major awards, but he still managed to have a fWAR of 4.0. To see his projection over a half win lower than this for 2022 is a bit puzzling.
Along with preventing runs from being scored, Peralta excelled at limiting hits last season. Along with pitching more innings, walks and avoiding the big inning seem to be Peralta’s two areas of focus for 2022. If he can build upon his impressive 2021 season, he should surpass Szymborski’s projection of 3.4.