With the 2023 season close to being underway and everyone getting excited about the return of baseball, now seems like the perfect time to share some predictions for the 2023 campaign. Here are three predictions that might be a little out there but could also come true.
Brandon Woodruff Wins First Cy Young Award
The Brewers rotation is very exciting and is led by Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes. Starting pitching is by far the best part of this team. However other players such as Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta have also been very impressive and seem to lose some of the spotlight playing behind Burnes.
This year I think that will change. Brandon Woodruff has been stellar in his time with Milwaukee owning a career 3.18 ERA. The crazy part is that after all these years of solid performances, we still haven’t seen the best of Woodruff. Over the offseason, the power right-hander watched YouTube clips of Clay Holmes to try and improve his already dominant fastball.
Woodruff is already one of the best in the game and is always looking for ways to get better. If he can find ways to add even more spin to his fastball and get even more effective the sky is the limit for him.
Last September, Brandon Woodruff changed his changeup grip right before a start at Coors. It worked.
This off-season, he switched up his two-seam by watching Clay Holmes videos to try and emulate his spin.
On how an elite starter stays elite:https://t.co/u7S5YzfCua
— Curt Hogg (@CyrtHogg) March 17, 2023
Adrian Houser Has Career Season In the Bullpen
The Brewers recently announced that Adrian Houser is trending towards a move to the bullpen.
The 30-year-old right-hander has had some success in the starting pitcher role holding a career 4.31 ERA as a starter. Most recently he threw a career-best 142 ⅓ innings of 3.22 ERA baseball in 2021. However, after struggles last season and the off-season addition of Wade Miley, Houser seemed to be the odd man out.
After finishing the 2022 season in the bullpen many people including myself expected the sinker-baller to be traded for whatever remaining value he had. However, the Brewers saw something else.
In his limited time in the bullpen, Houser has been a stud pitching to a 1.76 ERA across 56 innings. This had a lot to do with his approach out of the bullpen. As a starter, Houser was constantly trying to pitch to contact and living and dying by his sinker. He had some success but it was largely based on how good the fielding behind him was. This is made clear when you look at Houser’s FIP. Houser actually had a better FIP in 2022 than in 2021 but his ERA shot up tremendously.
Out of the bullpen, Houser is a different pitcher. He had a higher velocity and a more balanced utilization of his 4 seam fastball and sinker. He wasn’t constantly pitching for contact and had much better success. As an Adrian Houser fan, I’m very excited to see how he contributes in 2023.
Christian Yelich Hits 25+ Home Runs
Christian Yelich bouncing back is always one of the biggest talking points with the Brewers. While I don’t think Yelich will ever reach his 2018-2019 self, I don’t think he has to for this team to win. However I do expect him to be a lot better this season.
An important note with Yelich is that despite what most people say he actually still has his power. Last season Yelich’s average exit velocity was still in the 80th percentile. A big reason for Yelich’s lack of home runs had more to do with his ground ball rate. According to Fangraphs, 59% of Yelich’s in-play hits were ground balls. The league average in this category was 43%. In other words, Yelich hit the ball hard it was just on the ground.
If Yelich can just make some improvement in this category he will have a drastically better season.
We saw some flashes of vintage Yelich throughout the 2022 season and saw him carve out a good role for himself as a lead-off hitter. Now that health isn’t as much of a concern and we saw minor improvement I expect Yelich to produce better numbers this year.