Being in a lockout is stupid!
Now with that being said, we still need to look toward the 2022 Brewers season. After a disappointing appearance in the playoffs after clinching the NL Central last season, the Brewers’ plan is to finally take that next step and reach the World Series.
They have one of the best rotations in the baseball with six-to-seven serviceable starters. They still have a solid group of bullpen pitchers and young arms with a chance to impress. The offense should take positive steps next season. Players like Christian Yelich and Keston Hiura have a great chance for comeback seasons. Will they add enough roster pieces to repeat the NL Central and fend off the St. Louis Cardinals and the rest of the division?
Those answers will come in time. But until then, a lockout and off-season is the perfect time to make some bold predictions for this year. Here are three predictions that are very possible, but won’t exactly be easy to complete in 2022.
Hunter Renfroe Hits 35 Home Runs
Like many other players who came to Milwaukee before him, Renfroe should be able to rake inside American Family Field. Just look at examples like Christian Yelich, Kolten Wong, Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez and many others.
The 29-year-old power hitter came over to the Brewers right before the lockout began. Milwaukee sent back Jackie Bradley Jr. and two prospects, David Hamilton and Alex Binelas. At first glance, casual fans will look at the .237 career batting average and wonder what they are getting. The same thing was said when Willy Adames came to Milwaukee. I was guilty of thinking it myself.
Adames had similar stats to Orlando Arcia, who was traded to the Atlanta Braves a month before. Willy showed that players who get a chance to play in Milwaukee can definitely make the most of it. Renfroe could have a monster season and career with the Brewers.
In 2021, Renfroe had 31 home runs. In 2019, he had 33 and in 2018-2017 he had 26 each year. This is the type of hitter the Brewers need. They could use a few more of them. Now it may not seem like a bold prediction to say Renfroe will hit 35 because he’s been close before, but it’s still an impressive feat. Only 16 players hit more than 35 dingers in 2021. Avisail Garcia was the team leader in home runs last season, and he only had 29. A player hitting 35 home runs that isn’t Christian Yelich would be a welcomed addition. The 2022 Brewers team should be a lot better at run producing.
Christian Yelich Returns to the All-Star Game
I am calling it now. 2022 will be a big year for Christian Yelich. A player as talented as him and someone who would have won two NL MVPs in a row if it wasn’t for an injury doesn’t just suddenly disappear.
Yelich’s knee injury is something that is clearly still lingering for him. It changed his swing and approach at the plate. A new set of hitting coaches and a possibly extended off-season should help him reset after a full regular season and postseason under his belt.
His strike out to end the series with the Atlanta Braves should be all the motivation he needs. Yelich will be in the All-Star Game again this year. It doesn’t look right without him. He just turned 30 last month, and his contract extension really kicks in this season. Yelich will be a Brewer for a very long time, and this year is an important showcase for him.
To doubt him now and believe he won’t get back to where he was doesn’t help anything. We have all seen the concerns. He’s admitted his faults and lack of production. A new year to reset has all the tools needed to come back swinging in 2022. I predict a strong start from Yeli this season. We should never really see another season where he has less than 20 home runs.
Aaron Ashby Becomes the #4 Starter
The Milwaukee Brewers might sign a starting pitcher to a minor-league deal or two, but the team is pretty set for their rotation. Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer will probably fill out the rotation for the 2022 Brewers.
I wouldn’t put it past them to re-sign Brett Anderson again, because why not. And besides their starting rotation, they should have Aaron Ashby, Brent Suter for bullpen starts and might have Ethan Small called up by the end of the season.
There is a very good chance that Aaron Ashby will be the number four starter by the end of the year. The 2018 round four draft pick debuted on June 30th last season. His first half of an MLB season ended with a 3-2 record and ERA of 4.55. He appeared in 13 games, had four starts and recorded his first big league save. He pitched 31.2 innings and had 39 strike outs. During that half of season, Ashby was also optioned back and forth from Triple-A Nashville three times. That means 2022 would be his true rookie season.
Ashby is still listed as the number eight prospect for Milwaukee. The only other pitcher above him is Small at number five. It would be smart for the 2022 Brewers to keep their deep rotation, but there is a chance the team could move a pitcher like Lauer or Houser before the season is over. Especially if Ashby excels this season. His ability to strike out hitters last year was impressive, and if he continues where he left of last year, he will be in the rotation sooner rather than later.
But it would be smart to save money and keep their young and talented rotation. They have control over the entire staff until 2023 or 2024. Expect Ashby to start as a long relief option and fill in if and when any injuries occur. The 2022 Brewers could also go with a six-man rotation similar to last year to save innings for the young pitchers. The point is to keep your eyes on Ashby, it should be a huge season for him.
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