A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE BREWERS
They'll fall out of contention this year.... Trading Yovani Gallardo weakened the depth of their rotation. Wily Peralta has done a really nice job developing, improving his fastball command, but I like him better in the fourth spot than the third. And I would have been more comfortable with Mike Fiers and Jimmy Nelson competing for fifth starter instead of one being the 4. Nelson has enough velocity, but he's got a high-maintenance delivery and the quality of his secondary stuff suffers.... Jonathan Lucroy is one of the best catchers in baseball, offensively and defensively, but they have to trust backup Martin Maldonado.... Ryan Braun's poor season last year was health-related, with the thumb problem. He looked good in BP this spring but took a while to get in sync during games. I think he'll have a solid season, not MVP type, a .270/.340/.470 line and 20-plus homers.... Carlos Gomez has finally become much more consistent with the quality of his at bats.... First base has been an ongoing problem. Adam Lind doesn't move like he did four or five years ago—not that he was ever quick, but he's getting slower. He has to give them production.... Bringing Francisco Rodriguez back as closer was the right move. He's relying more on secondary stuff than ever, but he's still a battler, a competitor.... Their bullpen isn't that bad, but they don't have a lot of depth after their top guys. Will Smith may take the next step up, but I don't think he'll ever be a closer.
The Brewers are bringing back most of a rotation that was 12th in the NL in strikeout rate last season and second in fly ball rate. That means Kyle Lohse, Mike Fiers and their peers are putting a lot of pressure on the defense, especially in the outfield. Carlos Gomez is one of the best centerfielders in the game, and Ryan Braun is going to play every day in right. In picking a leftfielder, however, manager Ron Roenicke should lean toward getting the best possible defense on the field. That means starting Gerardo Parra, acquired last summer from the Diamondbacks, over third-year player Khris Davis. Since reaching the majors in 2009, Parra has been one of the five best defensive outfielders in baseball, ranking third in Ultimate Zone Rating and fourth in Defensive Runs Saved. Davis rated as a good leftfielder last year, but Parra is one of the best—and with these pitchers, the Brewers are going to need him.
LEAGUE RANK 10
MANAGER RON ROENICKE 5TH SEASON WITH BREWERS
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
JEFFREY PHELPS/AP (LUCROY)