Despite injuries that cost Brandon Woodruff a lot of time in 2023–and which could keep him out for a fair bit of 2024–the Brewers are very strong in the pitching department. They could assemble a very credible staff in 2024 with the arms already on hand. (Get it?) In fact, 2024 could see a repeat of the formula the Crew used for their 2018 run to the cusp of the World Series–but with a much better baseline than the 2018 team had.
In replicating the 2018 magic, the 2024 Brewers would be going in with a much better rotation. The Crew’s ace in 2018 was Jhoulys Chacin, with Chase Anderson, Junior Guerra, and Zach Davies as key members of the rotation. Freddy Peralta made his debut that season. Wade Miley, Gio Gonzalez, and Brent Suter also played key roles. It was a rotation that was solid, but was not quite up to dealing with the Dodgers’ high-powered offense.
For 2024, Corbin Burnes and Peralta, the 1A and 1C starters for the past three seasons, would be the first two in line, a massive upgrade from the Chacin-Anderson duo. Exercising Miley’s $10-million option for 2024 (really, a $9-million decision, since the team owes him $1 million in a buyout if they turn down their side of a mutual option) could give the Crew another solid piece in the rotation, though he can't be counted on for very many innings. Adrian Houser and Aaron Ashby could round out the top five, with Colin Rea (a free agent, but one the team could probably bring back pretty easily), Janson Junk, Robert Gasser, Jacob Misiorowski, Carlos F. Rodriguez, Evan McKendry, and Eric Lauer (whom they will non-tender, but could then re-sign) as potential depth options. Woodruff, the 1B starter for the Crew from 2021-2023, could be the equivalent of a trade-deadline acquisition for the Crew--or, if his shoulder capsule injury turns out to be a bit less severe than we all fear, he could be back before Memorial Day.
In short, the 2024 Brewers would have a lot more pitching firepower from the rotation than their counterparts did in 2018.
For 2024, Devin Williams will lock down the ninth inning far more often than not. To handle the seventh and eighth innings, the Crew have Abner Uribe, Joel Payamps, Trevor Megill, and Hoby Milner. Bryse Wilson has been a long relief ace for the Crew, and they have a lot of depth options, in Ethan Small, Clayton Andrews, Elvis Peguero, Thyago Vieira, Caleb Boushley, and J.B. Buskauskas.
That is, arguably, on par with the 2018 bullpen, which was centered on a “Nasty Crew” of Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, and Jeremy Jeffress, each of whom could close out a game, with a very solid supporting cast who got the ball to them--Dan Jennings, Jordan Lyles, Taylor Williams, and Jacob Barnes being among them.
However, the 2018 Brewers offer a clue to something that could make the 2024 version utterly fearsome on the mound. That year, Milwaukee bolstered their bullpen from the farm. Burnes and Woodruff saw significant action, not in the rotation, but primarily out of the bullpen for the regular season, with 45 of their combined 49 appearances coming in relief. Houser also made appearances in relief, after he missed lots of time in 2016 and 2017 due to injuries. In essence, they minimized the vulnerability of the 2018 team’s starters.
Now imagine how the 2024 Brewers pitching staff would look if you took the projected rotation, with the late-inning bullpen combo of Williams-Uribe-Payamps-Milner-Megill, then had Misiorowski, Gasser, and Rodriguez bridging the gap between them, the way Burnes and Woodruff did in 2018.
If the Brewers choose to stay in-house while building another championship-caliber pitching collective in 2024, they could mesh their dominant rotation with the very successful 2018 bullpen formula. Tack that onto an offense that could feature some dynamic upgrades at positions that struggled at the plate in 2023, and the 2024 Crew has a chance to really brew up some magic.
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