By Tim Muma on March 27, 2014
Though the Milwaukee Brewers lack a long, storied history, the franchise has had its fair share of top-level talent. Most of the star power has come on teams featuring offense and maybe a couple of quality pitchers, but those clubs all had flaws.
That leaves the door open for the 2014 squad to attain numbers never reached in Brewers' history. They might be long shots, but the talent and track record is there make their mark.
The Brewers have never had three qualified starters end the season with an 8.0 K/9 or better. The only time they had even two pitchers reach that mark came in 2011 with Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo. The career K/9 of Marco Estrada (8.8) and Gallardo (8.9) make them near locks, and Matt Garza has reached over 8.2 in two of the last three years.
No Brewers’ team has had five guys amass 60 extra-base hits during the same season. Consistent pop from some, combined with the speed of others, will contribute to just enough two and three-baggers to complement the bevy of home runs the 2014 Milwaukee club will blast. In three different seasons, the Crew has seen four players reach this number (1979, 1980, 2010).
While batting average against isn’t the most telling of stats, it can speak to the ability to create poor contact and strikeouts. Milwaukee had three starters hold opponents to this average in 2011, but now they have five capable hurlers. Gallardo, Garza and Estrada have done it in multiple seasons, while Kyle Lohse has been under .250 twice and Wily Peralta has the pure stuff to pull it off.
This one might be the toughest to accomplish. Last season, only 33 qualified NL players had an OPS of at least .760 on the year. Having such a deep, effective lineup is extremely rare as even the big-time offenses of Milwaukee's past couldn't turn the trick. Most of the players’ value in 2014 comes from their power and they all benefit from playing in Miller Park. Even Mark Reynolds had a .763 OPS in 2012.
Estrada, Lohse and Garza all had a lower ERA last year, and Gallardo's career ERA sits at 3.72, as 2013 was his only season over four. Peralta will be the wild card. Many are predicting a breakout season for the young righty, and he certainly has the arm to dominate hitters. Should he step up, this team will break the franchise record of four pitchers coming in under 4.00, which happened in 1976, 1979 and 2011.
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