Will the Milwaukee Brewers Be a Playoff Team in 2013?

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Milwaukee Brewers Optimism for 2013

The Milwaukee Brewers will begin their 2013 season spring training during the latter half of February. Milwaukee fans are anxious for the new season to start, with hopes that the beginning of the 2013 campaign will see a continuation of the club's success experienced at the end of the 2012 season. Although Milwaukee failed to make the playoffs in 2012, a number of younger players, especially pitchers, performed very well, giving fans optimism for the 2013 season. After analyzing the 2012 season, this hub will present five keys for the Brewers being a playoff team in 2013.

The Milwaukee Brewers in 2012

When spring training began in 2012, Milwaukee was confident of making the playoffs because all five of its starting pitchers, closer, and eighth inning set-up man were returning from the playoff team of 2011. Although Prince Fielder was lost to the Detroit Tigers in free agency, the club had signed free agent slugger Aramis Ramirez to hit cleanup behind Ryan Braun. Unfortunately, a series of season-ending injuries to the starting shortstop, first baseman, and starting pitcher Chris Narveson, as well as the implosion of closer John Axford and setup man Francisco Rodriguez leading to numerous blown saves, doomed the Brewers and put them out of playoff contention by the middle of the playing season. Since Milwaukee had no hope of resigning pitcher Zach Greinke after the 2012 season, he was traded to the California Angels for shortstop prospect Jean Segura and other pitching prospects before the end of July. Strangely, however, at this time the team started winning, and through the efforts of young inexperienced pitchers like Mike Fiers, Mark Rogers, and Wily Peralta, Milwaukee made a push for the last playoff slot which was ultimately unsuccessful.

Five Keys for the Brewers Making the Playoffs in 2013

Led by Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, and Corey Hart, the Milwaukee Brewers have more than enough offense to score enough runs to win. Pitching, however, is an unknown which will hold the key to the club's success in 2013. As I see it, there are five keys for the Brewers making the playoffs in October.

Projected Brewers Starting Pitchers in 2013

Yovanni Gallardo
Yovanni Gallardo | Source
Marco Estrada
Marco Estrada | Source
Mike Fiers
Mike Fiers | Source

The Starting Pitching Must Be Consistent and Successful

When the 2012 season began, the Brewers were confident that its starting staff of Zach Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yovanni Gallardo, Randy Wolfe, and Chris Narveson could repeat its 2011 success. Little did Milwaukee think that by the end of July only seasoned veterans Yovanni Gallardo and Randy Wolfe would be available to start games. Both Marcum and Narveson were on the disabled list, and Greinke had been traded. After an ineffective Randy Wolfe was released at the end of August, the Brewers found themselves with only one starter of more than one year of experience, Yovanni Gallardo. For 2013, Gallardo is clearly Milwaukee's ace with a record of 16-9 in 2012.

As the 2013 season begins, the Brewers only have Marco Estrada and Chris Narveson in addition to Gallardo who have more than one year of major league pitching experience. Estrada has two years of starting experience and a 9-16 lifetime record. In 2012, however, Estrada started 23 games and finished with a 5-7 record and a decent 3.64 ERA. Narveson who is coming off of torn rotator cuff surgery has been starting for three years with a 26-18 lifetime record.

In 2013 the Brewers will be relying on four possible starters with less than one year of major league pitching experience: Mark Rogers, Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta, and Tyler Thornburg. Of the four, Fiers has had the most experience and success going 9-10 in 2012. Fiers was exceptionally good during his first 2-3 months pitching, but less effective towards the end of the season. Mark Rogers is a 2004 first round draft pick who has been plagued with injuries throughout his career. He pitched well during the time he started in 2012 going 3-1 with an ERA of 3.49. Tyler Thornburg started a few games after Greinke was traded. Although he gave up too many home runs, he showed some flashes of good pitching. Wily Peralta is another top prospect who wasn't very impressive at Triple A in 2012. After he was called up, Peralta impressed the Brewers with very good pitching during a few starts in September. Peralta finished 2012 with a 2-1 record and fine ERA of 2.48.

Projected Brewers Bullpen Ace for 2013

John Axford
John Axford | Source

Martin Moldanado - Reserve Catcher

Source

The Bullpen Must Save Games

In 2012 the Brewers had the worst bullpen in the Majors with its closers and set-up men blowing 29 saves. John Axford, its stellar closer in 2011 with a league leading 46 saves, couldn't protect the ninth inning lead in nine games. Eighth inning set-up man, Francisco Rodriguez, also blew a lot of games. If the bullpen had not led the league in blown saves, the Brewers undoubtedly would have made the playoffs.

In the 2013 season, Milwaukee will give Axford another chance to regain his supremacy based on his performance in 2011. If Axford should falter as the closer, the club probably will call on set-up man, Jim Henderson, to save games. Henderson engaged in some success as a closer in the second half of 2012. He finished the season with a 1-3 record, three saves, and a 3.52 ERA. Another approach will probably be to have a closer by committee.

The roles of other set-up men for the Brewers is an unknown since they parted ways with sixth, seventh, and eighth inning set-up relievers like Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Veras, Kameron Loe, and Manny Parra. During this past off-season, Milwaukee signed free agent left handed relievers, Tom Gorzelanny and Mike Gonzalez. Gorzelanny has seven years of both starting and relieving experience with a career 44-45 record and ERA of 4.41. Gonzalez has been pitching for 11 seasons with a lifetime record of 17-21. He has 56 career saves and a fine 2.94 ERA. The Brewers also traded for right handed reliever, Brad Bodenhap. Bodenhap has five years of experience and a career 4.08 ERA. In addition, minor league players such as Michael Olmstead, Johnny Hellweg, and Brandon Kintzler will be competing for spots in the bullpen. If all or most of these players can achieve success, the Brewers should make the playoffs.

The Bench Must Be Stronger

Much like the starting pitching and the relief pitchers, there are questions about Milwaukee's bench players. Reserves Travis Ishikawa and Nyjer Morgan are gone from the 2012 Brewers. The only real consistently good player on Milwaukee's bench is back-up catcher Martin Moldanado who hit .260 last year. Long-time prospect Matt Gamel will be candidate for reserve infield or outfield duty. Gamel was starting first baseman in 2012 until he tore his ACL in the beginning of the season. Logan Schafer could take Nyjer Morgan's place in the outfield, although Logan only has limited major league experience. Tyler Greene who was disappointing in 2012 could also make it as a reserve infielder depending on his spring training performance. The biggest question mark for the bench is finding a veteran shortstop backup for the young Jean Segura.

Rickie Weeks - Second Baseman

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Good Play from Center of Diamond Players

Second baseman Rickie Weeks, shortstop Jean Segura, and center fielder Carlos Gomez must provide good consistent play for the Brewers to make the playoffs. Rickie Weeks was awful during the first half of 2012 hitting only .199. He did much better during the second half of the season hitting for power and finishing with a .230 average, 30 points below his lifetime average. Segura couldn't hit well during his first month up with Milwaukee, but finished well with a .258 average. Billed as a good defensive player, he made more errors than I expected. Carlos Gomez probably has some of the best athletic ability on the Brewers, but has underachieved due to bad hitting discipline and not being able to get on base. If Gomez can get on base, his blinding speed makes him a constant threat to steal, and his throwing arm and defense are outstanding.

Ryan Braun - American League MVP in 2011

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Key Players on the Brewers Must Stay Healthy

If the Brewers are to make the playoffs in 2013, key players like Ryan Braun, Aramis Ramirez, and Corey Hart must stay healthy. If one or more of these players was lost through injury, the team's offense would suffer. With Milwaukee being thin in experienced pitching, the Brewers can ill afford losing Yovanni Gallardo for the season.

The biggest keys for the Milwaukee Brewers making the playoffs in 2013 will be found in the quality of its starting and bullpen pitching. Also, if the team can avoid injuries to key players, it should be playing in October of 2013.

Will the Milwaukee Brewers Be a Playoff Team in 2013?

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© 2013 Paul Richard Kuehn

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Comments 16 comments

Miller2232 profile image

Miller2232 3 years ago from Florida

The best answer I can give is they have as much of a chance as the Pittsburgh Pirates have at making the postseason.


theframjak profile image

theframjak 3 years ago from East Coast

Their starting pitching is too thin. Gallardo is their best one and he isn't really a true #1 starter. He's more of a number 2.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I think it has always come down to pitching for Milwaukee. They are like the Texas Rangers of ten years ago....great offensive team but not enough pitching to carry them through. Good job of objectively looking at their strengths and weaknesses.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

Thanks to you and your readers, I have some idea about the Milwaukee Brewers. Hope they make their fans proud this year.


joshv82 profile image

joshv82 3 years ago from Madison, WI

I'm looking for a big year from Carlos Gomez. It seems that he's been around for so long, but that's only because he entered the Bigs at such a young age. He's just hitting his prime now and I'm hoping he can build on progress made last year.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

I can't argue with you much there. Each year the Pirates have gotten closer and closer to having a winning season. Maybe this will be their year if they get good pitching and the offense improves more.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Gallardo has been a consistent good pitcher for the past few years and he did go 16-9 in 2012. If you're looking for a 20 game winner, Milwaukee hasn't had one since Warren Spahn pitched for the old Braves back in the late 50s. Many people thought Greinke was a #1 starter with the Brewers, but in the two years he was with Milwaukee, Gallardo started every opening day game. I agree that Milwaukee's experienced starting pitching is very thin.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Billy, Thanks for stopping by and your insightful comments. Are you a Seattle fan, or do you follow the Mariners?


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

MsDora,

Thanks for reading and your comments. As a longtime Brewers fan, I'll really be closely following them and keeping my fingers crossed that they make the playoffs this year.


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Joshv82,

I sure hope you are right about Gomez. He certainly has all of the baseball tools, and just has to put it all together starting with a disciplined approach when batting. Thanks for reading and your comments.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Paul.....I do love baseball, compared to most other sports. Of course I am a Yankees fan and of all the teams, I know most about them...have my favorite players and I even have opinions, believe it or not.

This being said, I don't intentionally follow all the latest buzz or watch every single game. I'll catch up on baseball when my husband is watching and I happen to have some time to see a game all the way through....I confess I know nothing about the Milwaukee Brewers except for what little I've watched them play.

I enjoyed your hub, though, Paul.....because being literally surrounded by men who love Baseball and follow it religiously.....I like to shock the heck out of them, once in a while, with a baseball fact they think I wouldn't know.

I hope YOUR favorite team does well!....UP+++


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Paula,

Thanks for reading and your super comments. I have always admired the Yankees and at times hated them like many other people when they won the pennant every year. I'll always remember the 1957 season when the old Milwaukee Braves (now called the Atlanta Braves) played the Yankees in the World Series, The Braves won the Series in 7 games and Lew Burdette who won three games was the MVP. Wouldn't it be something if the Yankees and Brewers played in the World Series this year!Both of us would really have something to write about.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Paul...Believe me, if the Yankees play ANY team in the World Series.....I'll be glued to the games. It would be extra exciting for you and me if it's the Brewers....but we'll have to struggle to hold back the taunting comments as the games are played....I can be a real pain! LOL


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Let's keep our fingers crossed for successful seasons for both the Yankees and Brewers. The last time they played in the postseason was in October of 1981. Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage were playing for the Yankees then. Do you remember? I think the Brewers and Yankees were both in the American League then.


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK

Paul, very interesting look at the 2013 Brewers who are still only 2 games under .500 in mid-May. I agree with other commenters that it will be pitching and the bullpen that will make the difference; such a shame when they looked so promising mid-2012. I am on the wrong side of the Atlantic to watch live baseball but watch it (for now - it may be going soon) on ESPN America and it is my favourite sport! I dream one day of seeing a live game in the USA; preferably somewhere warm!


Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand Author

Jools99,

Thank you very much for reading this hub and your interest in baseball. Watching a major league game live in the States is quite an experience. The best parks for seeing a live game would be some of the older, smaller parks like Fenway Park in Boston or Wrigley Field in Chicago. The best time to come for the game would be during the summer months of July or August. I'm kind of disappointed in my Brewers, because they haven't won a World Series in a long time.

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