It’s no secret as to what most people thought would fuel the Milwaukee Brewers’ chances at success in the 2022 season. That would be a starting rotation that nearly all experts ranked among the top few in all of baseball.
A quick look back to 2021 makes it easy to see why. Brewers starters combined for a 3.13 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP last season, both second in MLB behind just the Dodgers, and also gave up the least number of homers in the league with 77.
The rotation was led by a three-headed monster of Corbin Burnes (the reigning NL Cy Young), Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta (who were both 2021 All-Stars). Last year also saw the emergence of Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer as very effective rotation pieces.
So, with all five of those pitchers coming back for 2022, it positioned the Brewers to have an extremely formidable rotation for batters to deal with this season. Unfortunately, that group of pitchers all got off to a bit of a rocky start.
All five Milwaukee starters had less-than-desirable outcomes in their first turn through the rotation, a stretch that saw the team go 2-3 to start the season. Only one starter (Burnes) was able to last even five innings in any of those games.
Through April 12th, Lauer’s start which gave each rotation member one start on the season, Brewers starters had clocked in the worst combined ERA in the league at 7.84 and were tied for 24th in WHIP at 1.69. Surely that would continue starting with the second turn through the rotation, right?
Sure enough, the Brewers starters have almost all looked much better after that tough first pass through the rotation to start 2022.
It started with Burnes. He threw a gem in his second start in 2022, throwing seven scoreless against the Orioles last Wednesday and giving up just three hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in a Brewers win.
Next up was Woodruff. Starting the team’s home opener, he went scoreless in his outing as well, lasting only five innings against the Cardinals but giving up just three hits and a walk himself with a pair of punch outs in another victory for the Crew.
Houser (5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 4 K) and Lauer (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K) would each look better in their second starts for the season as well. The only starter to struggle his second time through the rotation was Peralta (3 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 4 K), who was beat up by St. Louis.
Burnes and Woodruff have actually each tallied a third start themselves. The former gave up a couple solo shots yesterday but went seven innings again and hit double digits in strikeouts for the first time this season with ten, while the latter took a no-hitter into the sixth earlier today. Both earned wins to help the Brewers finish off a three-game sweep of the Pirates.
After today’s game, the season’s numbers (which also include an Aaron Ashby start from last Sunday) look much more Brewer-like for the starting crew at a 3.92 ERA (12th in MLB) and a 1.21 WHIP (T-9th). It’s barely more increased of a sample size than it was after one run through the rotation, but it’s still encouraging to see most of the starters looking much closer to form.
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There’s still a whole lot of season left to go in the 2022 campaign. It’s good to see, at least for now, that the team’s biggest strength is back to what Brewers fans expected.