2021 Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have made the postseasons in each of the past three seasons, but they didn’t belong in 2020 after going 29-31. Milwaukee’s only trip to the World Series came in 1982. They have no championships in the team's 52-year history.
Milwaukee finished 11th in ERA (4.16) but 25th in runs (247) and 16th in home runs (75).
The top signing in free agency was 2B Kolten Wong. The Brewers added IF Daniel Robertson and C Luke Maile to compete for bench roles.
They lost 3B Jeff Gyorko, OF Ryan Braun, and SP Brett Anderson.
Their bullpen looks electric in the eighth and ninth inning with RP Josh Hader and RP Devin Williams.
The Brewers have two emerging arms at the front of their starting rotation with SP Brandon Woodruff and SP Corbin Burnes. Milwaukee needs to rebuild the back of their starting staff if they want to return to the postseason.
Milwaukee should have two top-tier bats in the middle of their lineup with OF Christian Yelich and 2B Keston Hiura. The infield's structure seems off, with the Brewers intending on starting four middle infielders – Hiura moving to first base and Luis Urias to third base.
I don’t see an impactful team, but the Brewers should close out wins late in games. Their front two starters set the stage to be over .500, but Milwaukee may give too many games from their third to fifth starters. A great season by Yelich and Hiura is almost a must to compete in the NL Central.
1. 2B Kolten Wong
After a productive 2019 season (.285 with 61 runs, 11 home runs, 59 RBI, and 24 steals over 478 at-bats), Wong never found his power stride last year. His average hit rate (1.229) slipped into a much weaker area while also seeing a slide in his contact batting average (.318).
His walk rate (9.6) was the second-best output of his eight-year career. Wong has had a low strikeout rate (14.4) in six straight seasons.
He was on pace for 489 at-bats with 70 runs, three home runs, 43 RBI, and 14 steals.
In 2019, his best value came in April (.272 with four home runs, 15 RBI, and five steals over 92 at-bats). After the All-Star break, he hit .342 with 27 runs, four home runs, 24 RBI, and 10 steals over 199 at-bats while failing to get every day playing time in any month.
Wong’s hard-hit rate came in at 27.9 last year and 25.1 in 2019, supporting no upside in power. His HR/FB rate (2.3) was a career-low in 2020 while coming in at 7.4 for his career. He continues to have a weak fly-ball rate (28.9 – 32.8 in his career).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: The Brewers signed Wong to a two-year $18 deal in early February. Only once in his eight years in the majors has he had over 500 at-bats (2015 – 557). Wong has double-digit power, but his swing path and the limited number of balls hit hard lower his ceiling in home runs. With a leadoff job and 550 at-bats, I could see 80 runs, a dozen home runs, 60 RBI, and 20-plus steals. His batting average should have a neutral floor. Wong looks to be value based on his early ADP (415).
2. OF Lorenzo Cain
After playing five games (6-for-18 with two RBI) in 2020, Cain decided to opt-out of the season due to concern with Covid.
He ended being a bust in 2019 after losing value in runs (60), batting average (.260), and steals (18). His contact batting average (.320) had a sharp decline with no pulse in his RBI rate (12) and average hit rate (1.432) over the previous three seasons.
Cain looked on track over the first half of the year (48 runs, five home runs, 30 RBI, and 10 steals) in the counting categories, but his batting average (.246) had risk.
He battled oblique, knee, and ankle injuries over the final two months, leading to shorter stats (.281 with 27 runs, six home runs, 18 RBI, and eight stolen bases over 221 at-bats) after the All-Star break.
His walk rate (8.0) and strikeout rate (17.0) fell in line with his career path. His hard-hit rate (42.1) finished higher (111th) than expected when considering his low total in home runs (11).
Over the last two full seasons, his ground ball rate (54.6 in 2018 and 50.2 in 2019) hindered his power, while his HR/FB rate has been in a tight range (9.5, 9.4, 9.7, and 9.9) from 2016 to 2019.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: At age 34, Cain has a fading skill set in steals. He’ll hit the ball hard, but rarely high enough to clear the fences. His ADP (245) is 63 spots lower than 2019 (182). He is trending toward a 15/20 player with a hole in the RBI category if he doesn’t add more loft to his swing. I expect a bounce back to neutral in batting average and runs.
3. OF Christian Yelich
Yelich repeated his growth and path in his average hit rate (2.098), but he whiffed like a champ (30.8 percent – 21.2 in his career). His contact batting average (.331) was also well below 2018 (.426) and 2019 (.434).
After improving his swing path in 2019 (ground ball rate – 43.2 and fly-ball rate – 35.9), Yelich saw his groundball rate (50.8) spike while finishing better than his career average (55.5).
He has a tough time with runners on base (.130 with 37 strikeouts over 77 at-bats). His RBI rate (9) was one the lowest in the majors. Yelich lost his swing against right-handed pitching (.169 with seven home runs and 14 RBI over 142 at-bats).
His hard-hit rate (55.6) was the eighth highest in baseball. He posted an electric HR/FB rate over the last three seasons (35.0, 32.8, and 32.4).
Yelich hit .308 over 1,263 at-bats with 257 runs, 92 home runs, 229 RBI, and 56 stolen bases over three seasons with the Brewers. His walk rate (18.6) is elite.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: The combination of bad timing at the plate and pressing led to his failure in batting average and production in RBIs. Fantasy owners need to throw out last year and focus on his high ceiling in batting average and power. His ADP (12) remains high while owning the skill set to be a five-category stud. Yelich has a floor of .320 with 100 runs, 35 home runs, 100 RBI, and 20 steals, making him an impact piece to a winning fantasy team.
4. 1B Keston Hiura
Just like Christian Yelich, Hiura struggled with runners on base (RBI rate – 13) while having more regression in his strikeout rate (34.6 – 30.8 in 2019 in the majors). He also took fewer walks (6.5 – 7.2 in 2019).
His contact batting average (.348) came in well below 2019 with Milwaukee (.459) and in the minors (.470). Hiura finished with improvement in his average hit rate (1.935).
In 2019, between AAA and the majors, he hit .313 with 95 runs, 38 home runs, 85 RBI, and 16 stolen bases over 527 at-bats.
Over three seasons in the minors, Hiura hit .317 with 150 runs, 36 home runs, 122 RBI, and 24 stolen bases over 865 at-bats while owning a much more attractive strikeout rate (21.1).
His scouting report suggested a high average bat. His power came much quicker and more plentiful than expected.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: The move to first base should take the pressure off of Hiura’s right elbow and lower the risk of needing TJ surgery down the road. The high number of strikeouts is a concern until he improves his play discipline in the majors. Hiura also has a lot to prove with runners on base. Hitting behind Christian Yelich will create plenty of RBI chances, and he should hit a minimum of 30 home runs. With an ADP of 68 in the 12-team high-stakes market, his batting average must move over the .270 mark while adding some steals. A bet on Hiura is based on his high ceiling.
5. OF Avisail Garcia
There was a whole lot of emptiness in Garcia’s swing and production in 2020. His contact batting average (.326) came in well below 2019 (.379) while seeing a shape decline in his average hit rate (1.372).
His strikeout rate (23.7) fell in line with his career average (23.4). Garcia finished with the highest walk rate (9.7) of his career.
He struggled against right-handed pitching (.214 with one home run and six RBI over 126 at-bats). Garcia failed to hit a home run over his final 108 at-bats.
Garcia finished with a massive decline in his HR/FB rate (5.6 – 17.2 in 2019 and 15.6 in his career). He continues to have a low fly-ball rate (27.3).
From 2017 to 2019, Garcia hit .288 with 183 runs, 57 home runs, 201 RBI, and 18 steals over 1,363 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: His ADP (317) is reasonable if he plays at the level set in his top years in home runs. Garcia can’t offer explosive power without a chance in his swing path, and more balls hit hard. Viable .280/20/80 player while chipping in with some steals.
6. 3B Luis Urias
Urias turned into a beast at AAA in 2019 (.315 with 62 runs, 19 home runs, 50 RBI, and seven steals over 295 at-bats), but he’s failed to have any success in the majors over parts of three seasons (.226 with 43 runs, six home runs, and 40 RBI over 372 at-bats).
His approach (strikeout rate – 23.5 and walk rate – 9.0) was close to the league average in the majors, but Urias couldn’t match his contact batting average (.307) in the minors (.359) with fade as well in his average hit rate (1.417).
Over six seasons in the minors, he hit .308 with 36 home runs, 219 RBI, and 42 stolen bases over 2,051 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Urias isn’t a lock to earn a starting job, but his bat does have upside with a clear opportunity to win playing time in at third base. For now, a .280 hitter with a chance at a 60/15/60/10 skill set with 500 at-bats. Backend player to watch with upside based on his waiver wire ADP (515).
7. C Omar Narvaez
In 2019, Narvaez set career-highs in at-bats (428), runs (63), home runs (22), and RBI (55) while showing growth in his average hit rate (1.655).
Last year, his strikeout rate (31.0) came in well above his career average (17.8), leading to an empty season (.176 with two home runs and 10 RBI over 108 at-bats). His contact batting average (.275) had a shape decline from 2018 (.358) and 2019 (.354).
Narvaez ranked 415th in hard-hit rate (27.5) in 2019 and 336th (21.7) in 2020. His HR/FB rate (8.0) came in more than 50 percent below his breakthrough season in power in 2019 (16.1). His fly-ball rate (36.2) was a step above his career average (34.0).
Over the past three seasons, he hit .263 with 101 runs, 33 home runs, and 95 RBI over 816 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Narvaez fits the C2 mold with a low ADP (453). The combination of his ground balls swing, low hard-hit rate, and rising strikeout rate will keep many fantasy managers away. Viable cheat at catcher with a chance at 50/12/50 season with a rebound to neutral in batting average.
8. SS Orlando Arcia
Arcia turned in another dull season in 2020, but there were some small signs of growth. His average hit rate (1.600) was a four year high while posting a rebound in his contact batting average (.319). He finished with his best approach (strikeout rate – 16.9 and walk rate – 7.4).
His 2020 stats projected over 500 at-bats would come to 64 runs, 14 home runs, and 59 RBI.
He continues to have a low fly-ball rate (31.2) despite being a career-high. His HR/FB rate (11.4) came in above his career average (10.8) for the second straight year.
From 2017 to 2020, Arcia hit .248 with 161 runs, 38 home runs, 162 RBI, and 31 stolen bases over 1,521 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Despite just reaching the prime of his career, Arcia remains an afterthought on draft day. He’s still young enough to improve, but the Brewers will continue to bat him at the bottom of the lineup. More of a short-term injury replacement if his bat is heating up in season.
OF Derek Fisher
Over six seasons in the minors, Fisher hit .279 with 90 home runs, 317 RBI, and 111 steals in 1,934 at-bats. He played well at AAA (.289 with 50 home runs, 153 RBI, and 40 stolen bases over 913 at-bats). Even with competitive stats, his strikeout rate (23.9) was a liability in the minors.
Fisher had chances in the majors in each of the past four years, but he only hit .194 over 402 at-bats with 17 home runs, 52 RBI, and 10 steals. He will take walks (10.3 percent), but his strikeout rate (35.8) is a disaster in the majors.
His HR/FB rate is 24.6 in the majors. Fisher missed most of last season with a quad and knee issue.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: A risk/reward player who will be found in the free-agent pool until he figures out how to make better contact. Fisher was released by Toronto and picked up by Milwaukee in late February.
1B Dan Vogelbach
Last year Vogelbach bounced around three different franchises with no impact (.209 with six home runs and 16 RBI over 115 at-bats).
Seattle gave him the first starting opportunity of his career in 2019. He finished with strength in power (30 home runs) and his walk rate (16.5), but his batting average (.208) remains a glaring hole.
Vogelbach had huge problems vs. left-handed pitching (.154 with five home runs and 19 RBI over 136 at-bats).
Over eight seasons in the minors, he hit .287 with 120 home runs, 498 RBI, and 15 stolen bases over 2,714 at-bats.
His HR/FB rate has been healthy in 2019 (21.3) and 2020 (22.2).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Vogelbach needs the DH in the National League to receive the bulk of the at-bats against right-handed pitching. He needs to lower his strikeout rate (26.6) and improve his contact batting average to earn over 400 at-bats. I don’t consider him a middle of the order hitter based on his low RBI rate (13) in his career.
OF Billy McKinney
Over his seven years in the minors, McKinney has shown growth in some areas of his game, along with struggles in other parts. In his career, 2,356 at-bats on the farm, he hit .270 with 314 runs, 61 home runs, 330 RBI, and 22 stolen bases.
McKinney hit .300 in 2015 between High A and AA while adding more power to his resume in 2017 (16 home runs over 441 at-bats) and 2018 (22 home runs over 421 at-bats).
His walk rate (10.4) in the minors gives him a chance at hitting near the top of the order while not being a high risk in strikeouts (18.0 percent).
In limited time in the majors over three seasons, his approach regressed (strikeout rate – 25.8 and walk rate – 7.3), with strength in his average hit rate (1.895). He hit .231 over 373 at-bats with 52 runs, 18 home runs, and 41 RBI.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: McKinney is a former first-round draft pick (2013). This season he’ll compete for a bench outfield for the Brewers. Toronto only gave his three at-bats (two hits) in 2020.
Manny Pina (C): Pina remains the backup catcher for the Brewers. Over the past four seasons, he hit .257 with 27 home runs and 101 RBI over 833 at-bats. In 2020, Pina only had nine hits over 39 at-bats with two home runs and five RBI.
Daniel Robertson (3B): Robertson handled himself well over 282 at-bats in the majors in 2018 (.262 with 46 runs, nine home runs, 34 RBI, and two steals) while owning a top of an order walk rate (12.1).
His bat was exposed in 2019 (.213 with two home runs and 19 RBI over 207 at-bats) with Tampa due to a high strikeout rate (24.9).
Last year he went 7-for-21 with no home runs and two RBI for the Giants.
Over eight seasons in the minors, Robertson hit .280 with 42 home runs, 235 RBI, and 14 stolen bases over 2,054 at-bats.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: His approach and upside in power should earn him a utility role for the Brewers in 2021 with more upside if he makes better contact.
Tim Lopes (OF): Lopes has two seasons of experience at AAA (.290 with 12 home runs, 89 RBI, and 44 steals over 728 at-bats).
Seattle gave him a bench role in 2019 and 2020, which led to him hitting .252 with three home runs, 27 RBI, and 11 stolen bases over 254 at-bats.
Over his eight years in the minors, he hit .277 with 27 home runs, 350 RBI, and 159 stolen bases over 3,167 at-bats. Lopes has a league average walk rate (8.1) with a favorable strikeout rate (15.7).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Lopes offers possible sneaky speed off the bench for Milwaukee if he makes the team out of spring training.
1. SP Brandon Woodruff
Over the past two seasons, Woodruff emerged as a frontline ace. He went 14-8 over 35 starts with a 3.41 ERA and 234 strikeouts over 195.1 innings. His walk rate (2.2) has been top-tier over this span, with a further push in his strikeout rate (11.1) last year.
His ERA (3.05) and WHIP (0.991) move to elite areas in 2020. He allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his 11 starts while pitching the best in September (2.25 ERA ad 43 strikeouts over 32 innings).
Woodruff brings an elite fastball (96.9) that was tough to hit (four-seam – .213 BAA and sinker – .225 BAA) over the past two seasons. His slider (.212 BAA) grades well, while his changeup (.207 BAA) improved in 2020.
Over five seasons in the minors, he had a 3.40 ERA and 420 strikeouts over 463 innings.
The addition of his sinker has been the key to his development in the majors. His groundball rate (49.4) is rising, but so was his HR/FB rate (14.1). Woodruff induced a much higher number of infield flies (17.2 percent – 5.0 in 2019) last season.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: His ADP (36) placed him as the 14th starter drafted in 2021. Woodruff offers command, a big fastball, and success with his secondary pitches. His next step is proving his worth over a full season of starts. He is trending toward a sub 3.00 ERA with 225-plus strikeouts.
2. SP Corbin Burnes
Over his first four games last year, Burnes made one start with three relief appearances, leading to a 3.38 ERA and 24 strikeouts over 16 innings. He looked to have some downside risk based on his 11 walks.
Milwaukee moved into the rotation on August 18th. Burnes went 4-1 over his final eight starts with a 1.65 ERA, .181 BAA, and 64 strikeouts over 43.2 innings. He lowered his walk rate to 2.7 over this span.
Burnes dominated right-handed batters (.140 with one home run and 40 strikeouts over 93 at-bats). His arm also played well vs. lefties (.200 BAA).
His AFB (96.0) was career-high. In 2020, Burnes added a cutter (.169 BAA) that ended up being a plus pitch and edge against left-handed batters. His slider (.071 BAA), changeup (.182 BAA), and curveball (.095) were tough to hit.
Burnes still walks too many batters (3.6 per nine innings), but his deep arsenal of pitches pushed his strikeout rate (13.3) to an electric level. Best of all was the cleanup of damage in home runs allowed (two over 59.2 innings compared to 17 over 49 innings in 2019).
Over four seasons in the minors, he went 14-8 with a 3.22 ERA and 287 strikeouts over 282.1 innings.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Burnes has a short sample size, so investing in him will come with a price (ADP – 58). The most innings pitched by him came in 2017 (145.2) in the minors. If he repeats his last season's command, Burnes looks well on his way to an impactful season in ERA with 200-plus strikeouts. Go big or go home pick.
3. SP Josh Lindblom
The Dodgers drafted Lindblom in the second round in 2008. After struggling over seven seasons in the minors (22-19 with 4.27 ERA and 429 strikeouts over 497.1), he pitched well in relief over two seasons (3.31 ERA and 98 strikeouts over 100.2 innings) in the majors.
His arm lost value in 2013 (5.46 ERA), which led to a trip to Korea to reinvent his career. Lindblom made a big step forward in 2018 and 2019 (35-7 with a 2.68 ERA and 346 strikeouts over 363.1 innings).
Over five seasons in Korea, he went 63-34 with a 3.55 ERA and 750 strikeouts over 823.1 innings.
With the Brewers in 2020, Lindblom struggled to find his way over his first seven starts (6.46 ERA, .267 BAA, 1.533 WHIP, six home runs, and 40 strikeouts over 30.2 innings). After two innings in the bullpen (no runs allowed), he pitched well in two starts (one run over 10.1 innings with no walks and eight strikeouts). His season ended with a subpar showing (three runs and five baserunners over 2.1 innings).
His strikeout rate (10.3) came in strong with regression in his command (3.2 walks per nine) and some struggles with home runs (1.2 per nine). Lindblom had a playable WHIP (1.279), which suggested his ERA should have been closer to 3.90 than 5.16.
He continues to have a short fastball (90.5 MPH) while having the most success with his split-finger fastball (.222 BAA), curveball (.143 BAA), and slider (.148 BAA).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Fantasy owners gave Lindblom a backend ADP (318) in 12-team leagues, which is a bet on his strikeout rate and command. There are enough signs in his profile to take a shot on him as a bench/rotational starter. His Korean command (2.3 walks per nine) points to a 3.75 ERA with some help in strikeouts.
4. SP Adrian Houser
Houser drifted his way through the minors for nine seasons (25-35 with a 4.21 ERA and 513 strikeouts over 572.2 innings) with no shining seasons on his resume.
In 2019 after four good starts at AAA (2-0 with 1.27 ERA and 23 strikeouts over 21.1 innings), the Brewers called him up. Houser had an up and down season in Milwaukee while working as a starter and reliever. He finished with a 3.72 ERA and 117 strikeouts over 111.1 innings.
Last year Houser looked sharp over his first two games (one run over 12 innings with nine strikeouts) before failing into the abyss (6.70 ERA, .308 BAA, and 1.674 WHIP over 43 innings) over his final nine starts.
He continues to struggle against left-handed batters (.336 with seven home runs over 125 at-bats) with a good fastball (94.2 MPH).
Houser didn’t have one secondary pitch of value (curveball – .270 BAA, slider – .339 BAA, and changeup – .321 BAA) over the past two seasons. Any success is driven by his sinker (.238 BAA) and four-seam fastball (.237 BAA).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Fantasy owners priced him better than expected in the early draft season in 2020 (ADP – 263), but they jumped off his bus this year (ADP – 489). I’d rather go cliff diving into an empty pool than chase bad innings from a strikeout pitcher that can’t find his way vs. lefties or develop any secondary pitch of value. On the positive side, Milwaukee may have to wheel him out every fifth day.
5. SP Eric Lauer
Last year Lauer suffered a left shoulder injury in March. With four months to recover, he looked ready for the late start of the season in July. A battle with Covid led to a couple of days on the injured list.
After a sharp outing in relief (no runs over 2.2 innings with six strikeouts), Lauer didn’t receive his first start until August 7th. His arm didn’t look right after getting blasted in back-to-back games (13 runs, 19 baserunners, and two home runs over 6.2 innings), crushing fantasy owners (me included) that bought into his one game with success.
The Brewers shipped him out the next day. Lauer struggled in relief in his other appearances of the year (three runs and five baserunners over 1.2 innings).
Lauer didn't progress over his first two seasons in the majors (14-17 with a 4.40 ERA and 238 strikeouts over 261.2 innings).
His walk rate (3.5) remains a problem while posting a mid-tier strikeout rate (8.3). His AFB (91.9) is below the league average, with only one pitch of value in his major league career (slider – .217 BAA).
Over three seasons on the minors, Lauer had a 2.93 ERA and 195 strikeouts over 178 innings with better command (strikeout rate – 9.9 and walk rate – 2.8).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: This season, he’ll compete for the fifth starting job. There were no late season reports about a shoulder issue. Lauer has underperformed his minor league career, which gives him a chance to be much improved with better command. No one has drafted him in 12-team leagues, making him only a name to follow early in the year.
SP Freddy Peralta
Over seven seasons in the minors, Peralta went 19-27 with a 3.25 ERA and 540 strikeouts over 440.1 innings.
His arm started to take a step forward in 2017 at AA (2.26 ERA over 63.2 innings with 91 strikeouts). After 13 excellent starts at AAA (6-2 with a 3.14 ERA and 92 strikeouts over 63 innings), he earned his first chance in the majors in 2018.
He pitched well with Milwaukee except for three games (19 runs and 27 baserunners over 13.1 innings). Peralta allowed two runs or less in six of his 14 starts while delivering three electric starts (no runs over 19.2 innings with 30 strikeouts).
In 2019, his arm regressed with the Brewers (7-3 with a 5.29 ERA and 115 strikeouts over 85 innings), leading to Milwaukee working almost exclusively out of the bullpen last year. Over his 15 appearances, Peralta allowed seven runs and 10 baserunners in his first and last games of the season. In between, he had a 2.22 ERA and 41 strikeouts over 24.1 innings.
He set a career-high in his strikeout (14.4) while struggling with walks (3.7 per nine).
His AFB (93.4) is about the league average. In 2020, he added a slider (.188 BAA), which ended up being a plus pitch while dumping his changeup. Peralta still offers an excellent curveball (.222 BAA), but its usage dropped by almost 50 percent last year.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Peralta still isn’t there as far as command, but he does create swings and misses, which is more than I can say from Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer. His lack of a changeup type pitch will hurt him through the third time in the batting order. His ADP (387) is favorable as a buy and hold in deep leagues. Peralta brings WHIP risk, but all other signs point to explosive upside with the development of better command.
SP Drew Rasmussen
Rasmussen went 14-5 with a 2.65 ERA and 150 strikeouts over 170 innings over three college seasons. Unfortunately, he needed two TJ surgeries, with the second costing him all of 2018.
Rasmussen pushed quickly through three levels in his first year in the minors (3.15 ERA and 96 strikeouts over 74.1 innings). His strikeout rate (11.6) creates an edge, but he walked too many batters (3.8 per nine).
With no minor league games in 2020, Milwaukee gave him 12 appearances out of the bullpen. He battled home runs (1.8 per nine) while walking too many batters (nine over 15.1 innings). His strikeout rate (12.3) held form.
His AFB (98.1) is electric while working off of a slider (.308 BAA), curveball (.200 BAA), and changeup (no hits over 12 pitches thrown) combination.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Rasmussen enters 2021 at age 25, so he looks ready to push for a starting job. I’m not sure how many innings his arm can handle, which may lead to a split role. His fastball is major league ready, and he did look sharp over eight straight games out of the bullpen (one run over 10.1 innings with 13 strikeouts) last summer. Possible fast mover in spring training while possibly flying under the radar in many formats. It’s all about command early in his career.
CL Josh Hader
Hader led the National League in saves (13) while ranking sixth in SIscore (0.41) for reliever pitchers.
Over his first nine games, he didn’t allow a run or hit over 9.1 innings with 13 strikeouts while converting all seven saves. Hader gave away his perceived draft edge over his next eight appearances (eight runs, 14 baserunners, and three home runs over 6.1 innings). His season ended with 3.1 shutout innings with no walks and five strikeouts.
His walk rate (4.7) was the highest of his short career. For the second straight season, home runs allowed (three over 19 innings) were a problem (15 over 75.2 innings in 2019). Hader continues to have an elite strikeout rate (14.7).
His AFB (95.0) was one MPH shorter than 2019 (96.0). Hader threw his four-seamer (.171 BAA) about two-thirds of the time compared to 84 percent in 2019. His slider (.037) remains an electric pitch. Batters only had one hit over his 125 sliders in 2020.
Hader pitches up in the strike zone (fly-ball rate – 58.8 and 52.2 in his career) with a high HR/FB rate (15.0).
2021 Fantasy Outlook: With Devin Williams emerging as an elite right-handed arm in the Brewers' bullpen, Hader may not have as clean of a ride in saves. Over four seasons in the Brewers, he went 12-11 with a 2.54 ERA, 380 strikeouts, and 62 saves over 223.2 innings. Hader is a top-two closer drafted in 2021 in many leagues with an ADP of 56. As much as I love his arm and impact upside, I'm troubled with long ball and command struggles. He should offer an edge in ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts while receiving a minimum of 30 saves.
RP Devin Williams
Williams started his career as a starter in the Brewers’ system after getting drafted in the second round in 2013. After missing 2017 with a right elbow injury that required TJ surgery, he struggled in 2018 as a starter over 14 games at High A (0-3 with 5.82 ERA and 35 strikeouts over 34 innings).
Milwaukee shifted him to the bullpen in 2019 with success at AA (7-2 with a 2.36 ERA and 76 strikeouts over 53.1 innings with four saves).
Last year his arm exploded on the major league scene after allowing one run and eight hits over 27 innings with 53 strikeouts. Williams had an impressive strikeout rate (17.7) while walking three batters per nine innings. Eight of his nine walks came against left-handed batters over 62 at-bats.
His AFB (96.7) was top shelf while offering an almost unhittable changeup (two singles over 227 pitches). Batters only hit .222 vs. his four-seam fastball.
Over six seasons in the minors, Williams had a 3.73 ERA and 405 strikeouts over 378.1 innings.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Williams has a short resume of success, but his arm looks closer ready. He’ll keep the ball on the ground (61.1 percent in 2020 and 66.7 percent in 2019 at AAA). His ADP (140) is in a challenging range as Williams needs to get some saves to be worth his investment.
RP Clayton Andrews
After an electric season in college (1.99 ERA and 118 strikeouts over 99.2 innings), the Brewers drafted Andrews in the 17th round of the MLB June Amateur Draft.
Over his first two seasons in the minors, he went 11-3 with a 2.83 ERA, 131 strikeouts, and 11 saves over 92.1 innings. His strikeout rate (12.8) creates an edge with some work to do in his walk rate (3.1).
His fastball sits in the low-90s while offering an upside curveball, league-average slider, and changeup that needs work.
2021 Fantasy Outlook: Andrews pitched 31.1 innings in 2019 at AA, leading to a 2.59 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 31.1 innings. He should have pitched at AAA last season. If the Brewers need another lefty arm out of the bullpen, he could be a viable option. At 5’6” and 160 lbs., his ceiling doesn’t project to be a major league closer.
2021 Fantasy Baseball Team Outlooks