Brewers Look To Build Off Bounce-Back Year, Contend in 2015

Two years ago, the Milwaukee Brewers endured a truly disastrous season, posting their worst record in almost a decade, while being mired in the ugly controversy involving their face of the franchise Ryan Braun. Braun ended up being suspended the final 65 games of the 2013 campaign due to performance-enhancing drugs. As a result, a lot of people anticipated the Brewers were heading for a steep decline, even after a combined .552 winning percentage in the prior two seasons that also included a trip to the National League Championship Series in ‘11.

Luckily for Brewers fans, the team was able to get back on track a season ago, as even though they coughed up a first-place lead in the division that they held for a good portion of the season, the club still finished over .500, supplying evidence that the future is indeed bright in Milwaukee. With the roster they possess entering the upcoming season, a trip to the playoffs is certainly more than possible.

As such, Brewers tickets for their Opening Day game against the Rockies in Miller Park are seeing steady demand. According to Razorgator, tickets for the April 6 opener are averaging $119 on the secondary market, with a get-in price of $51. Over the past week prices had remained relatively flat, increasing one percent in cost.

While Braun has not looked like the MVP player he used to be since his controversial suspension, the fact remains that he’s still a very talented player and a more-than-satisfactory option to have in the heart of the batting order. Plus, he was limited last year by injuries, but did have that problem addressed in the offseason by undergoing surgery to repair the nerve issue in his right thumb, so there is hope he can return to his normal production.

Aside from Braun, the Brewers actually boast an extremely talented and athletic outfield. In center field, they have Carlos Gomez, who has been outstanding the past two seasons — so much so that he was rewarded with an All Star berth in each campaign. Furthermore, young Khris Davis looks promising in right and is well above average when it comes to hitting with power. The key for him will be to improve his discipline at the plate.

With talented players also residing within the infield, such as Aramis Ramirez and Jean Segura, the Brewers potentially could have one of the harder hitting lineups in the National League this season. The addition of slugger Adam Lind — if he stays healthy — also may increase their power output, too.

Pitching, however, may be Milwaukee’s undoing if their season ends up unraveling at some point. While their bullpen is still good, having Francisco Rodriguez return as the closer and Jonathan Broxton setting him up, their starting pitching remains the team’s biggest question mark. Yovani Gallardo, entering a contract year, was dealt to Texas, and as a result, Kyle Lohse slips in as Milwaukee’s No. 1 starter, which is a relative weakness compared to their rivals’ aces. Directly behind him are Matt Garza and Wily Peralta, who are both far from certainties, especially given their higher positioning in the rotation.

Mike Fiers made a nice resurgence last year and has rightfully been rewarded with a spot on the pitching staff this year, but following up that success might be a little difficult. Jimmy Nelson slides into the fifth spot and will be another question mark for the Brewers’ starting pitching. For both of these guys, though, there is certainly potential, given their young age and glimpses they’ve exhibited in the recent past.

Overall, the 2015 Brewers look like they’ll be paced by their offense. With a solid bullpen, if they just consistent starting pitching from most of their starters, they’ll definitely be a playoff contender throughout the year. If not, it could be a long season hanging around the NL Central basement.

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