Time for the second in our series of season previews written by UK-based baseball fans, and we are staying in the NL Central with Mark Lewis and his outlook on the 2018 Brewers. Comment below and be sure to check out Mark’s Brewers blog and give him a follow on Twitter (@UKBrewCrew).
2017 was easily the best season I’ve had following the Brewers. I haven’t been following baseball for very long, and I can pinpoint the exact date down to Tuesday 4th February 2014, but that’s another story. Last season was my best season because it was the first time I got to go to Milwaukee and watch the crew at Miller Park. I saw three games, we beat the Dodgers (who we all know ended up losing in the World Series), and lost two games to the Giants. The Brewers also had a pretty good season, being the last team eliminated from the Wild Card postseason chase. We finished the season with a record of 86-76 and considering it was classed a rebuilding year, it exceeded expectations by a long way. Our star man, Ryan Braun, spent a long time on the sidelines. It was the introduction of Eric Thames who was acquired from NC Dinos from the KBO League in South Korea that got our season off to a flyer. His electric hitting in the first half of the season (11 home runs in April) saw the Brewers unexpectedly in top spot coming into the All-Star break. We couldn’t hold on, eventually finishing second to the Cubs who were going in to the postseason trying to keep their hands on the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Chasing the Cubs
We have been one of the most active teams in the offseason, making some big noise with outfield signings of Yelich and Cain as well as adding Albers to the pitching roster. We are yet to see if we will add another starting pitcher with Arrieta, Cobb and Lynn all having been linked to the Brewers. Personally, I don’t think we need to and would be content with what we have as the pressure in our division is all on the Cubs. They are expected to win, and we are chasing them down. The Brewers ramped up the rivalry with Cubs this offseason, offering a (tongue in cheek) pre-sale to Wisconsin residents for all Cubs games at Miller Park using the tagline, “It’s not that we don’t like Cubs fans, we just prefer Brewers fans!”
The bolstered outfield this season means that fan favourite Ryan Braun is not necessarily a guaranteed starter this term so he has been learning first base during spring training. It is the strength of the outfield that is exciting the Miller Park faithful and there is a real expectation that this season Milwaukee will see postseason baseball in October for the first time since 2011.
The hitting power of the additions in Yelich and Cain are added to an already potent Travis Shaw, Eric Thames and Ryan Braun, so we are expecting a lot of runs in Milwaukee this year. Pitching-wise, Chase Anderson looks likely to start opening day and head a rotation of Anderson, Davies, Chacin, Suter and Gallardo. Jimmy Nelson will be added to the rotation when he has recovered from his shoulder surgery although no date has yet been given on his return.
89-73 – The Brewers will make the postseason via wild card behind the Cubs, then lose in the NLDS.
Lorenzo Cain. Yelich will come a close second.
One to watch
Eric Sogard – Gets on base. Accomplished at shortstop or second base and might just be this UK Brewer’s favourite player!