The Milwaukee Brewers will be looking to do one better after finishing second in the National League Central with 86 wins and 76 losses in 2022. That put them seven wins behind the division-winning St. Louis Cardinals, a number that it feels is possible to run down over a 162-game season.
The Brewers will start their chase of the Cards with a road series against another division rival, the Chicago Cubs. They return to Milwaukee for their home opener at American Family Field, the first game in a three-game series against the New York Mets, on Monday, April 3. The Brewers don’t have to wait long to face St. Louis in 2023, with the Cards being the second team to visit Milwaukee this year for a three-game series beginning on Friday, April 7.
Here are three questions for the Brewers ahead of the 2023 season.
Three Key Questions
Can pitching carry the team again?
Pitching was the Brewers’ hallmark in 2022 and should be the same in 2023. This rotation has five solid players at the top and enough depth to weather injury issues or a couple of guys falling out of form. Corbin Burnes leads the rotation the year after he finished seventh in National League Cy Young voting and had a career-high 243 strikeouts. Eric Lauer and Brandon Woodruff were both double-digit game-winners with sub-3.70 ERAs. At the same time, if they can get the likes of Aaron Ashby and Freddy Peralta firing after injury issues last season, the Brewers will be a bigger threat in the division.
Will there be an offensive boost?
Purely by OPS+, this was a better offense than you think in 2022. The only position below average by the metric was catcher, which makes it weird that the offense couldn’t help late in the season when the bullpen fell apart. Losing players like Kolten Wong and – especially – Hunter Renfroe will certainly hurt, but don’t sleep on what the Brew Crew did during the offseason. William Contreras is a .809 OPS catcher who was an All-Star in 2022. His hard-hit rate alone – 46% compared to a league average of 35.8% – will improve this offense.
Does the Corbin Burnes arbitration ruling hurt him and the team?
We already mentioned how Burnes is the ace of this staff. He and the Brewers went to arbitration on his contract for 2023, with the arbitrators ruling in favor of the franchise. The monetary loss was something in the region of $750,000, but the blowback could be much more damaging. Burnes has stated that this process hurt his relationship with the team, noting that the club angled their argument in a way that suggested he was the reason the Brewers failed to make the playoffs last fall. Watch this one closely. If Burnes underperforms, the Brewers only have themselves to blame.