Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Wednesday, February 17 in preparation for the beginning of the 2021 season. The Milwaukee Brewers had a dominant bullpen and their starting rotation helped carry the team to the postseason in 2020. To make 2021 another successful year, we’re going to need a strong starting rotation once again.
Thanks to the starting rotation, the Brewers’ poor offensive performance was overshadowed by the starting rotation and even the bullpen.
What would a strong, positive starting rotation look like given Milwaukee’s payroll and system? Here’s a prediction at what our starting rotation could possibly look like for 2021.
1. Brandon Woodruff
Brandon Woodruff really made a name for himself in 2020. Whether you consider him an ace or not, Woody definitely has ace status after a stellar season. Just because his ERA went from a 3.62 to a 3.05 doesn’t mean it’s particularly ‘ace’ status. But, in terms of how Woodruff has performed in previous seasons, this was definitely an ace season for him. The 13 starts he made this season was a team high, but in a majority of those, he wouldn’t pitch past the fifth inning. He did have some career high milestones however; 0.991 WHIP, 2.20 walks per nine and 11.1 K/9. Woodruff helped seal his spot as either first or second in the rotation by showing consistency and change in the way he performs on the mound. It’ll be no surprise if he’s our ace once again in 2021.
2. Corbin Burnes
Spending the offseason prior to the 2020 season in a pitching lab, Corbin Burnes emerged as an amazing starter. From watching how he was in 2019 to seeing him improve drastically (in a good way) to 2020 makes watching his progress that much more exciting. In 12 starts this season, Burnes posted a 2.11 ERA, 1.02 WHIP with 88 K’s. Corbin Burnes was even in contention of earning himself a Cy Young Award. Due to an oblique injury, Burnes would miss the Brewers’ Wild Card Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers which would take him out of the running for Cy Young. Had Woodruff not established himself as the ace of the team, Corbin Burnes would be considered for the top starting spot of the rotation heading into the 2021 season.
3. Brett Anderson
Returning to Milwaukee on a one-year, $2.5 million contract, LHP Brett Anderson is another arm the Brewers need in order to keep their rotation success going. Anderson is a ground ball type of pitcher and with the poor defense coming from the Brewers last season, it hurt Anderson’s numbers when it came to his performance. Having that rotation depth in the rotation behind Woodruff and Burnes will be the key to success.
4. Josh Lindblom
Though 2020 wasn’t the year for Josh Lindblom, maybe 2021 will be the year of redemption. Ending the season with a 5.16 ERA, Lindblom was placed in the starting rotation at first, but eventually was thrown into the reliever position after a lackluster performance. While the performance might’ve been disappointing, the arsenal of pitches Lindblom has up his sleeve could very well be the saving grace for him going into the 2021 season. Placing him fourth in the rotation behind Woodruff, Burnes, and Anderson just might be the solution.
“Fastball Freddy” is what they call him. Making several appearances in both the relief and starting position in 2020, Peralta posted a career best ERA of 3.99. As Freddy Peralta started to show the starting position type of pitching, it meant the pressure was really on. Once Devin Williams started to emerge as the relief pitcher we all know and love, Peralta saw less relief appearances. Peralta’s fastball and his command with the ball has gradually developed in just one year. His stellar performance in the Winter Leagues carried into the 2020 season. With the way Peralta has been improving and showing himself as a starting pitcher, having him in the fifth spot would just make sense.
Overall, the Brewers shouldn’t have too much of a struggle when it comes to their rotation. If they keep performing how they did last season and even better, no doubt they’ll make it to the postseason. But, anyone could emerge as a great pitcher and this piece just gives a simple prediction.