The Brewers invested a lot into their pitching staff but with little results, they cut their losses by trading Zack Greinke and letting Shaun Marcum‘s contract expire. This year’s Brewers bring a much younger pitching staff into the season hoping to improve upon the 22nd ranked ERA and WHIP in the majors—but with inexperienced pitchers there are many questions. Luckily their offense is pretty stacked, meaning any significant pitching improvement could certainly propel them into the playoffs in 2013.
2012 Team Rankings:
Runs: 3rd Overall
Batting Average: 12th Overall
ERA: 22nd Overall
WHIP: 22nd Overall
Though he’s been dogged by injuries, Lucroy continues to improve and put up a .320 AVG, 12 HR, and 58 RBI in just 346 at-bats. He also had a significant decline in his strikeouts and can be an All-Star catcher in 2013 if he stays on the field.
After nine years in the minors, Maldonado finally got some time in the bigs with Lucroy’s injury and looked pretty solid for a backup catcher. In 256 at-bats he batted .266 with 8 HR and 30 RBI.
After an iffy 2011, Hart returned to his 30 home run potential hitting .270 with 30 HR, 83 RBI, and 91 R. At the same time, he is 31 and had a career-high 151 strikeouts last season—so whether he can repeat that kind of production from year to year remains to be seen.
The Brewers have been banking on Gamel for years now—but with only 106 games played over five years it remains unlikely that Gamel will manage to a) stay healthy and b) not play horribly.
The 29-year-old Weeks played just his second injury-free year in eight seasons but saw career lows in batting average (.230) and On-Base Percentage (.328). He did put up 21 HR, 63 RBI, 85 R, and 16 SB but struck out 169 times. It’s going to be hit or miss with Weeks in 2013.
Bianchi didn’t play much in 2012 but showed potential to be a .300+ hitter with solid speed in the minors. He could be a good middle-infielder and will be given the chance to play short as well.
Shortstop: Jean Segura, Jeff Bianchi – Grade: B-
Segura is a former top prospect in the Angels system who came over in the Zack Greinke trade. In his first major league action the 22-year-old hit .264 with 19 R, 7 SB, and 14 RBI in 148 at-bats. In the minors he showed potential to be a .285+ hitter with fantastic speed and not a lot of strikeouts (or walks, for that matter).
At 34, Ramirez really had a fantastic 2012 campaign hitting .300 with 27 HR, 105 RBI, 92 R, 9 SB, and a league-leading 50 doubles. He has been as good as ever over the last two seasons and continues to be a top third baseman until he shows otherwise.
Green struggled in limited action last season, batting .184 in 103 at-bats but has the potential to be a very solid power-hitter with a solid average and a lot of extra-base hits in the Ramirez mold.
Ryan Braun hit .319 with a career high (and league leading) 41 HR, 112 RBI, 108 R, and 30 SB. There is no one in the league better than this guy and he’s signed with the Brew Crew through 2021.
The 30-year-old Aoki looked very promising in his rookie campaign. The Japanese import played 151 games batting .288 with 10 HR, 50 RBI, 81 R, 30 SB, and minimal strikeouts. At just $2.5 million, Aoki is an absolute bargain.
The 26-year-old Gomez had a very welcome resurgence in 2012, seeing career-highs in batting average (.260), home runs (19), and steals (37). If he stays healthy, he can be a solid, speedy outfielder—but last season was by far the best Gomez we have seen.
Schafer showed potential to be a .300+ hitter in the minors, he will get his first chance to show it in 2013 after getting just 23 at-bats last season.
With Greinke and Marcum gone, Gallardo is once again the lone ace in the rotation. He isn’t amazing but has become very reliable going 60-38 with a 3.68 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 204 K per year over the last four seasons. You pretty much know what you are getting with him.
Fiers looked very promising in his rookie campaign, starting 22 games and putting up a 3.74 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 135 K in 127 IP. No surprise, he put up a 2.80 ERA in four minor league seasons and looks like a real up-and-comer.
After seven seasons in the minors, Estrada started 23 games in 2012 and put up a 3.64 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. At 29, he still looks like a promising pitcher.
Narveson was a top prospect, back in 2002. Now 31, he has started a total of 63 games in the majors and missed all of last season with a torn rotator cuff. Even when he does play, his 4.67 career ERA leaves much to be desired.
Rogers is another top prospect from back in the day, making the list back in 2006. He never got it together for an extended amount of time in seven seasons in the minors, but will get the chance at the back end of this rotation after putting up a 3.92 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in seven starts last season.
Gorzelanny may end up in the pen or the rotation depending on how the other guys look. Pitching full time out of the bullpen for the first time, he put up a 2.88 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in 72 IP for the Nats last season. As a starter he is a low-4s ERA guy.
After their bullpen really struggled last year, the Brewers bring in quite a few new faces.
Axford really had a rough go of it in 2012, going 5-8 with a 4.67 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 9 blown saves. There’s no guarantee he makes it through the year as the Brewer’s closer.
Henderson, Kintzler, and Badenhop are all solid 3.50-4.00 ERA guys though Henderson and Kintzler could be even better.
Stinson, De Los Santos, and Sanchez have almost no major league experience between the three of them so it’s wait and see on them.
They could really use Gorzelanny in the pen, if only they didn’t need him so badly in the rotation.
Team Grade: B-
Fearless Prediction: 85-77, 3rd in NL Central