The old saying in baseball is that you can’t win a World Series in April, but you can lose one. In the infancy of the 162-game marathon that is the 2021 MLB season, the Milwaukee Brewers have already sent three of its best players (Kolten Wong, Lorenzo Cain and 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich ) to the IL, leaving the team and fans in a desperate state. Yet, despite these woes, the Brewers keep winning. How are they doing it? A dominant starting rotation.
Milwaukee Brewers’ Dominant Pitching
The Big Guns
At the top of the rotation, two guys are in the midst of what could be breakout seasons for both. Brandon Woodruff, an All Star in 2019, is back at ace level. He’s fanning batters, with an arsenal of a fastball that edges towards 100 and excellent breaking balls that keep hitters chasing at the outside edges of the zone. Then there’s Corbin Burnes, a guy who was electric out of the bullpen in 2018, lost it in 2019, then found it in 2020 and 2021. Burnes will use an overpowering cutter that clocks in the upper 90’s and sinker to get ahead, before putting them away with an array of off speed pitches. Should this incredible start keep up, expect to see both of these guys in the Cy Young conversation.
After the Burnes and Woodruff, perhaps the most intriguing guy in the rotation is Freddy Peralta. He’s also known as “Freddy Fastball.” Peralta broke into the league on Mother’s Day of 2018, where he set a Brewers record of 13 strike outs in his first career start. Since then, Peralta has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen, before coming into Spring Training and earning the fifth spot in the rotation from presumed starter Josh Lindblom. That said, don’t let the nickname fool you. While Freddy Fastball dots the black with the fastball better than most, Peralta has found new success by adding a new pitch, a slider with a similar spin rate to NL Cy Young Winner, Trevor Bauer. The Brewers need the back end of the rotation to continue to be solid, if it hopes to remain atop the NL Central.
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Lights Out Bullpen
If the Brewers have a lead after the fifth or sixth inning, it very well could be curtains for its opponent. The Brewers boast a deep bullpen with plenty of options. Of course, at the back end, there is NL Reliever of the Year, Devin Williams, going in the eighth with a lively fastball and of course the Airbender changeup.
Williams in the eighth sets up Josh Hader for the ninth. Hader, a two-time NL Reliever of the Year himself, blazes fastballs past hitters, the Brewers win, and Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams Come” blasts through American Family Field. The Brewers bullpen features more than just the big dogs at the back though. JP Feyereisen, a local product, has continued to make a name for himself this season. Not to mention guys like Brad Boxberger, Brent Suter and Eric Yardley, who have had big moments early in the season.
The Brewers continue to lead the NL Central. The offense has had its moments of dominance, but also struggled mightily at times. Getting Yelich and Cain back from injury will only help. While its only one month in, if the Brewers pitching continues to be great, Milwaukee is destined for a fourth straight trip to the playoffs.