Last season the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers battled for the basement of the NL Central and in 2016, it doesn’t appear that much has changed.
Milwaukee (68-94, 4th in NL Central, 32 GB)
Key Additions:Chase Anderson, Aaron Hill, Chris Carter, Jonathan Villar, Keon Broxton, Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Key Departures:Jean Segura, Jason Rogers, Elian Herrera, Adam Lind, Francisco Rodriguez, Kyle Lohse, Khris Davis
Reds Dates: @Mil May 27-29, Aug. 12-14, Sept. 23-25 @Cin May 5-8, July 15-17, Sept. 12-14
The Brewers got off to a terrible start in 2015 as they went 7-18 in their first 25 games which led to the dismissal of Ron Roenicke. Craig Counsell took over and guided the Brewers to a 61-76. 10 of those victories came in their 19 meetings with the Reds who helped Milwaukee escape last place in the NL Central after they lost 14 of their last 15 contests that started with a loss to the Brewers on Sept. 20.
Counsell lost a lot of his offense from last season as their leading home run hitter Khris Davis is now in Oakland and their top RBI producer Adam Lind is with the Mariners. Ryan Braun who led the team in hits (144) and average (.285) returns to Milwaukee for his tenth season. Braun may miss Opening Day with back stiffness, but should return by the time he faces the Reds in May to continue working towards 300 homers and doubles.
A pair of former Astros break into the starting lineup this season for the Brewers in shortstop Jonathan Villar and first baseman Chris Carter. Villar fills the void left by Jean Segura who was traded to Arizona for starter Chase Anderson and new third baseman Aaron Hill. Carter takes the place of Lind and also Jason Rogers who was traded to Pittsburgh for speedy outfielder Keon Broxton. Carter is all power and no average. Over the last three seasons he’s crushed 90 homers with 37 of those coming in 2014. Despite his tremendous power, he struggles to consistently make contact with the ball as he is only a .217 hitter in his first six seasons.
The pitching staff is led by Wily Peralta and Jimmy Nelson. Nelson led the staff in wins (11) and strikeouts (146) last season. Taylor Jungmann had a solid rookie campaign going 9-8 in his first 21 career starts with a 3.77 ERA. Matt Garza is the veteran on the staff, but he hopes to avoid another season like last year went he put together a 6-14 record with a 5.63 ERA, while Anderson rounds out the rotation.
The Brewers were going to have two closers for the 2016 season, but Will Smith made the decision a little easier for Counsell. Smith tore his LCL taking his shoe off after pitching in a game on Thursday and will be out a significant amount of time. That leavse the closing duties to Jeremy Jeffress, who had a strong season last year, posting a 2.65 ERA in 72 appearances last year. He only has one career save which is 385 less than the man he in All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez, who is now with the Tigers.
The Brewers and Reds will get together for six different series this year including the first home series for the Reds after the All-Star break. Two of those series also come in last few weeks of the season. Here’s a look at what the Brewers should look like when they come to Cincinnati in early May (as of 3/29).
Starting Rotation (2015 Stats):
1. Wily Peralta (5-10, 4.72 ERA)
2. Jimmy Nelson (11-13, 4.11 ERA)
3. Matt Garza (6-14, 5.63 ERA)
4. Taylor Jungmann (9-8, 3.77 ERA)
5. Chase Anderson (6-6, 4.30 ERA w/Diamondbacks)
Closer: Jeremy Jeffress (5-0, 2.65 ERA, 24 holds)
C. Jonathan Lucroy (103 games played, .264 avg, 7 HR, 43 RBI)
1B. Chris Carter (129 GP, .199 avg, 24 HR, 64 RBI w/Astros)
2B. Scooter Gennett (114 GP, .264 avg, 6 HR, 29 RBI)
3B. Aaron Hill (116 GP, .230 avg, 6 HR, 39 RBI w/Diamondbacks)
SS. Jonathan Villar (53 GP, .284 avg, 2 HR, 11 RBI w/Astros)
LF. Ryan Braun (140 GP, .285 avg, 25 HR, 84 RBI, 24 SB, All-Star)
CF. Kirk Nieuwenhuis (74 GP, .195 avg, 4 HR, 14 RBI w/Mets & Angels)
RF. Domingo Santana (52 GP, .238 avg, 8 HR, 26 RBI w/Astros & Brewers)
C. Martin Maldonado
1B/OF. Ramon Flores
IF. Yadiel Rivera, Colin Walsh
OF. Keon Broxton