Bold Predictions: 2017 Brewers

Yes, its that time of year: Bold predictions season. It’s late March and Brewers fans are all anxious for the season to start. The WBC has been exciting, but it can only do so much. With this in mind, here are some bold predictions for the 2017, ranging from mildly bold to (maybe) too bold.


  1. Junior Guerra posts an ERA and DRA over 4.20.

I have written about my pessimism for Junior Guerra at BPMilwaukee before. He came out of nowhere and has quickly become a fan-favorite in Milwaukee. I expect the fanfare to die down. Guerra posted an unsustainably low .250 BABIP, while pitching in front of an average at best Brewers defense. That number should rise. He faced some of the easiest competition in the league according to PPF. Also, Guerra’s LOB percentage was almost 80 percent. He wasn’t even very successful in AAA before his mid-season callup in 2016. It is easy to love Guerra as a player given his story, but a closer look gives reason for caution.


  1. No Brewers reliever posts more than 20 saves.

Neftali Feliz is the Spring Training favorite to win the closing job. There is reason for optimism with Feliz, namely his uptick in velocity back to his 2009-2010 levels. But he has shown to be injury-prone throughout his career. Feliz was dominant back in the day, but he has not posted a FIP below 3.92 over a full season since 2011. He posted a 3.52 ERA in 2016 but it was largely BABIP and LOB percentage fueled. If Feliz goes down or doesn’t perform, Corey Knebel and Jacob Barnes are waiting in line. But I expect the Brewers’ progressive front office and coaching staff to employ a more effective closer-by-committee, keeping individual save numbers down and ERAs low.


  1. Zach Davies posts a top five earned run average in the National League.

PECOTA is oddly down on Davies for 2017. PECOTA expects him to post an ERA over 4.00 after back to back season of ERA’s under 4.00. And Davies has only just turned 24. It’s an easy comparison due to the pitch arsenal, style, and even looks, to compare him to Kyle Hendricks. However, I think this is the year Davies takes that big step Hendricks took in 2016. I’m looking for Davies to post an ERA just above 3.00, a K/9 around 8, and a return to his groundball machine ways that escaped him in 2016.


  1. Matt Garza will rebound and net a decent low-level prospect at the trade deadline.

I wrote earlier this offseason about why I think Matt Garza can rebound. The contract situation, his unlucky 2016, and transformation into a groundball pitcher all give reasons for optimism. Even if Garza doesn’t make the Opening Day rotation, I can see him having some early season success in the bullpen and making the transition if someone underperforms or is injured.


  1. The Brewers will steal 220 bases as a team for the first time since the 1993 Expos.

The Brewers stole 184 bases last year as a team. Chris Carter has been replaced by Eric Thames who, if he holds onto the starting spot, could reach double digit steal numbers. Orlando Arcia is expected to start all year long at shortstop, pushing Jonathan Villar to second base. This creates a potential 80-90 steal middle infield. Keon Broxton is expected to win a starting outfield spot, and he stole 23 bases in 244 plate appearances last year. Building off of these four players, it is easy to see how the Brewers can reach that 220 number.


  1. Besides a possible Matt Garza trade, the Brewers stay pat at the trade deadline.

I don’t see the Brewers making any more drastic trades. I think this is the point where Milwaukee lets the rebuild play out. This means Ryan Braun will likely play out his contract as a Brewer. The crowded outfield of Domingo Santana, Braun, Keon Broxton, and Lewis Brinson will play itself out. As a minor move, one could possibly replace Eric Thames if he doesn’t pan out.


  1. The Brewers finish in third place in the division.

I wouldn’t necessarily bet on this outcome, although PECOTA doesn’t believe third place is too outlandish. This is essentially a bet on the Brewers’ young studs such as Davies, Broxton, and Santana, and a bet against the Cardinals and Pirates. It isn’t hard to see the Pirates repeating their 78 win 2016 season. If they finish with that number again, the Brewers can sneak ahead with a possible low-80 win season. If the Cardinals’ older stars such as Matt Carpenter and Adam Wainwright show their age, in Wainwright’s case continue showing his age, they could be in trouble also. The Brewers have a slight chance of sneaking past one of the two.

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