2021 Milwaukee Brewers: Early Season Update

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The conclusion of the three-game series against the Chicago Cubs sees the 2021 Milwaukee Brewers have their first break between fixtures since the start of the season. A 7-0 win over the Cubs leaves them 7-5 after the first 12 games of the 2021 season. The Brewers have been a bit hit-or-miss in their early-season fixtures, however, this 2-1 series win over the Cubs will give them positives heading into their three-game homestand against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

We had predicted that there will be vast improvements on the 2020 season in our pre-season predictions, but there are still some areas that will need to be improved as they move deeper into the season. Here we recap the early season form, and the standout stars, before looking into the future fixtures for the Brewers.

2021 Milwaukee Brewers: Results Recaps

Opening Series vs Minnesota Twins: (1-2)

The 2021 Milwaukee Brewers kicked off their season with a three-game homestand against the dangerous Minnesota Twins. They took the first game 6-5, with Orlando Arcia, now with the Braves, walking them off in the bottom of the 10th. This was followed by two disappointing defeats, 0-2 and 2-8, in a no-show from their bats. They recorded just seven hits from these two games, with a solo home run by Jackie Bradley Jr. being the only positive from the two defeats.

First Trip to Wrigley Field: (2-1) 3-3

The batting slump continued in game one of the Cubs’ second home series of 2021, picking up four hits in a 5-3 loss. Omar Narvaez‘s three-run homer in the top of the 7th offered some resistance, but the Cubs got the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh to take the game. They turned it around in the series with a 4-0 win and a 4-2 win to take the series in Chicago. Omar Narvaez hit his second home run in as many games in the 4-0 shutout, whilst Lorenzo Cain homered twice in their 4-2 win.

A Trip to St. Louis: (2-1) 5-4

After a disappointing 1-3 loss to the Cardinals in game one of the series, the bats exploded for a combined 18 runs in the last two games of the series. A 9-5 win in game two, with Avisail Garcia and Keston Hiura hitting bombs, before a 9-3 win in the third game, with Avisail Garcia, Travis Shaw and Manny Pina hitting homers saw them edge the series in St. Louis. The home run from Avisail Garcia in game three was also his 100th in his career.

First Homestand with the Cubs: (2-1) 7-5

The first homestand with the Chicago Cubs for the 2021 Milwaukee Brewers was a feisty one. After the Brewers took game one with a 6-3 win, the Cubs responded by taking game two 2-3. This wasn’t without drama. A couple of hit by pitches, including one on Brett Anderson, after Willson Contreras was hit in the head by a rogue pitch by Brad Boxberger. This caused the benches to clear, and led to a bat flip from Contreras after his go-ahead home run in the top of the eighth. However, the Brewers regained composure to take game three 7-0, after a standout performance from Corbin Burnes yet again. His 10 strikeouts in six innings, and just two hits allowed, caused big problems for the Cubs’ hitters.

2021 Milwaukee Brewers Early Season Standout Performers

The early season form of the Brewers hasn’t been pretty by any means, however, to be 7-5 after their first 4 series, there has to have been some key performances to start the campaign. These three guys have certainly shown that:

Corbin Burnes: 0.49 ERA, 30Ks in 18.1 innings

Corbin Burnes has been nasty. His arsenal is consistently improving, whilst his overall performances have seen him stand out as one of the best pitchers in MLB so far this season. He may be 1-1 after his first three appearances, but those stats don’t do him justice. 30 strikeouts, and just four hits allowed, is a phenomenal start to the year.

We predicted that Corbin Burnes would continue to excel in our article before the season started. He has not only excelled, but he has also been dominant in his starts this year. His first appearance against the Twins showed this. In a battle of standout pitchers, there was a combined 23 strikeouts between the two sides. Although Burnes picked up the loss, it showed the level required to make the Brewers’ starting rotation.

Burnes’ 5/6 pitch-mix is frightening. Reaching 97mph with his cutter/sinker, he can dial it back to just 82mph with his devastating curveball. These pitches are enough to cause any hitter problems. The tweet above of him getting Ian Happ out in just 3 pitches is a fine representation of where Burnes is heading in 2021.

Travis Shaw: 12 RBIs, .297 BA, 3 HRs

After the loss of Orlando Arcia to the Braves, there was a shift defensively for Luis Urias into the opening at SS. This in turn led to Travis Shaw taking the starting third baseman role. Since taking that position on he has been unstoppable. Tied-3rd for RBIs so far this season, he has been a joy to watch at the plate. He has struggled in recent years to get on-base, but this year has seen him make that breakout that has been brewing. His team-high 3rd home run this season put the Brewers up 3-0 in game three and really set them on their way. It will be highly likely that Travis Shaw will be the regular 3B for the rest of the season, let’s just hope he continues this fine form he is in.

Freddy Peralta: 2-0, 0.69 ERA, 24Ks

Another pitcher that has been formidable. Peralta has been dominant in his appearances this season, including a mixture of being a starter and being a reliever. This just showcases his ability and adaptability. He came in in the Opening Day game and struck out six hitters in just two innings, before picking up wins against the Cubs both home and away with 18 strikeouts in 11 innings.

Peralta relies heavily on his four-seam/slider combo. He touches 94 mph with his four-seamer before taking the velocity off his pitches and throwing 80mph sliders to follow. This has been his bread-and-butter for many years as a reliever, but now his time has come to be an integral part of the rotation.

2021 Milwaukee Brewers: Early Season Disappointments

Although there have been a few standout players in terms of performances in the first 12 games, there are a few guys that will need to step it up as the season progresses.

Jackie Bradley Jr. : .154 BA, 2 RBIs

The trade of JBJ to the Brewers was deemed as a solid one by most people in the game, however, apart from his solo home run in the opening series of the season, he has yet to produce much else offensively.

Four hitless appearances saw his batting average sit at .053 heading into the Cubs homestand. Although he picked up a bit of momentum in that series, the 2021 Milwaukee Brewers will demand more from him as the season progresses. A stacked outfield containing Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Billy McKinney, Avisail Garcia, and Tyrone Taylor means he will need to start hitting more regularly before he is replaced in the near future.

Keston Hiura: .114 BA, 1 HR, 4 RBIs

There was plenty of criticism of Hiura heading into the 2021 campaign. He had a poor 2020 season after coming out firing in 2019. This form has continued in 2021 unfortunately. He has got four RBIs, but his inability to get on base has seen his batting average slump to a measly .114. With the fourth-highest amount of ABs this season for the Brewers, Hiura will need to find his form quickly before he is replaced at first base by Daniel Vogelbach. The shift to first base was largely in part due to Kolten Wong being signed, but Hiura is missing something at the plate (apart from this monster against the Cardinals).

Drew Rasmussen: 18.90 ERA, 7 Hits and 8 Runs Allowed in 3.1 Innings

It’s always hard to judge a pitcher’s performance on his ERA. However, Rasmussen has struggled in the opening few appearances in 2021. His last appearance came in the first game of the Cubs home series, but one-inning relief appearances in the first few games saw his ERA rise meteorically. His strikeout rate has been solid, but his command hasn’t been evident in the early appearances. Allowing eight runs in just 3.1 innings is always tough to claw back, but Rasmussen possesses the capabilities of turning things around, and to be fair he has shown glimpses, in particular his one hit, one strikeout outing in the ninth against the Cardinals. Rasmussen’s arsenal can be nasty at times but it needs to be shown on a more regular basis.

2021 Milwaukee Brewers: What To Look Forward To

A home series against the Pirates follows their days off this weekend, with the Brewers hoping to continue the momentum of the bats getting regular hits into that series. The bats have been disappointing so far this campaign, with 7 players averaging between .100 and .200 in these opening few series. Once these bats pick up more regularly there shouldn’t be many problems for the Brewers as their rotation has been impressive so far.

With expectations of winning the NL Central very much in the 2021 Milwaukee Brewers’ mindset, there needs to be more consistency from hitters and pitchers alike as the season continues. However, they are in a good place with their 7-5 start, so they can only improve as the season progresses.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Jake's love for baseball grew watching late-night games on TV in the UK. This led to card collecting, before the desire to write about his passions. His primary focus is prospects but he loves writing about everything baseball-related.