Despite an underwhelming start, the outlook on the Brewers’ season has not veered too much from the pre-season excitement that accompanied Milwaukee’s additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich.
After the first 17 games of the season, the Brewers sit in fourth place in the National League Central Division at 8-9. Thanks to a surprisingly explosive start from the perceived-to-be-rebuilding Pirates, along with the usual stalwarts facing the Brewers (the Cubs and the Cardinals), Milwaukee has its work cut out for them if they want to steal a division title.
The Brewers have dealt with a flurry of early-season injuries, perhaps none as impactful as the loss of closer Corey Knebel to the DL. Since the early April setback, the Brewers have struggled to find reliability in the back end of their bullpen.
Outfielder Christian Yelich spent the beginning of his career toiling away down in Miami for a dismal Marlins team and became one of the most underrated stars in all of baseball. He hit 49 homers in the last two seasons while playing in 155 and 156 games respectively in the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
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The Brewers sent outfielder Lewis Brinson and some Minor League prospects to the rebuilding Marlins for Yelich. Although recently being placed on the 10-day DL, he started off this new leg of his career with a blistering .385 batting average and one home run. He is due to come back to the active roster in the next few days and will try to continue building on his small sample size.
Lorenzo Cain was one of the biggest free agent signings of a quiet MLB offseason, as the Brewers inked the outfielder to a 5-year $80 million contract. Cain was originally drafted by the Brewers back in 2004 but was flipped in 2010 for Yuniesky Betancourt and Zack Greinke. Over the last four seasons for the Royals, he managed a batting average of .300 and averaged 133 games per year.
So far in the young season, Cain has been rather quiet, batting .271 with a homer and five RBI’s.
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Last year’s backup first baseman Jesus Aguilar has made the most of his opportunity early this season thanks to the injury troubles of Ryan Braun. Though he only has 29 at-bats, he’s registered nine hits and three walks.
Lefty reliever Josh Hader has impressed thus far in his six appearances. His ERA stands at 1.86 over 9.2 innings and he’s whiffed 22 while sporting a .52 WHIP. He seems to be a likely log-jam for Knebel, and his versatility will certainly be an asset for the Brewers moving forward.
Many will remember first baseman Eric Thames from his ludicrous start to the 2017 season, in which he belted 11 home runs and batted .345 for the month of April. So far this year the batting average has not been there, he comes in at a slugger’s clip of .222, but he’s maintaining his April tradition of mashing baseballs. So far he has five home runs.
The Brewers are in the midst of a three-game home set with the Reds and will host the Marlins this weekend.