Washington Nationals 2020 Season Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

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HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals strikes out against the Houston Astros during the first inning in Game One of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: Juan Soto #22 of the Washington Nationals strikes out against the Houston Astros during the first inning in Game One of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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After losing in the NL Wild Card game, the Brewers look to regain superiority in the competitive NL Central.

The Rundown:

Last year’s Brewers were a scrappy ball club. They won 89 games despite having an expected 81-81 record and only a plus three run-differential. The team also made the playoffs despite losing 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich (44HRs, 97RBIs) on September 11th to a fractured knee cap; finishing the regular season 12-5 after Yelich’s injury.

Milwaukee went on to face the Nats in the NL Wild Card game where they were up 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Before Josh Hader, reigning back-to-back NL Hoffman Reliever of the Year winner gave up two earned runs and blew a save. Despite the tough loss to the Nationals the season was a success for the Brewers. The team made the playoffs without their best player and the 16th best ERA in baseball and a rotation that had all of the starters with at least a 3.50 ERA. The Brewers were able to squeeze out wins in a lot of close games because of their bullpen which tied for second in the majors in saves led by Hader who was tied for third in the majors for saves (37).

This year’s Milwaukee team could possibly struggle to repeat their 2019 success. They lost their second, third and fourth home run leaders (Moustakas, Grandal and Thames). And the team’s only acquisition to their starting pitching staff was Brett Anderson, who has a career 4.05 ERA.

Milwaukee Brewers 2019 record: 89-73

Washington’s record vs. Milwaukee last season: 2-4

Milwaukee Brewers added/resigned: Justin Smoak, Eric Sogard, Brett Anderson, Luis Urias, Eric Lauer

Milwaukee Brewers lost: Yasmani Grandal, Mike Moustakas, Trent Grisham, Zach Davies, Eric Thames

Nationals to Watch:

The Nationals on paper are a lot better than the Brewers. Now, a full season of Yelich should help them a lot but there are a lot of holes in the lineup outside of him. While the Nationals have brought back their entire postseason starting rotation and strengthened their bullpen by resigning Daniel Hudson and signing Will Harris.

Washington lost Anthony Rendon but they hope to replace some of his production with Eric Thames (25HRs, 61 RBIs) who played for the Brewers last year. And with his spot in the lineup also being potentially filled by Juan Soto, (34HRs, 110RBIs) who had a breakout year last season which included the base-clearing single off closer Hader in the NL Wild Card game. Soto also had 3HRs and 7RBIs in the World Series and the game-tying HR that kept the teams season alive in the NL Divisional Series versus the Dodgers. Soto will get more attention now but the addition of Thames and resigning Howie Kendrick and Ryan Zimmerman should keep enough diversity in the Nats lineup, Opposing pitchers have to pitch to Soto instead of trying to walk him or pitch around him.

Another possible decider in the series could be how the Nationals start the season. Last year, the Nationals lost all three of the teams early match-up in May during the team’s 19-31 start. But won two of the three games they played in August.

2020 Series Breakdown:

April 28-30 @ Milwaukee

June 1-3 in D.C

The Nationals are just a deeper team and the Brewers biggest strength, their bullpen, isn’t what it once was.

Prediction: Nats win season series 4-2.

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