6 MLB teams on the brink of collapse in the 2020 season

WASHINGTON, DC NOVEMBER 02:Confetti is sprayed in the air as thousands of Washington Nationals fans cheer with jubilation as they celebrate the Nationals winning its first World Series on November, 02, 2019.(Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC NOVEMBER 02:Confetti is sprayed in the air as thousands of Washington Nationals fans cheer with jubilation as they celebrate the Nationals winning its first World Series on November, 02, 2019.(Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

6 MLB teams on the brink of collapse

Milwaukee Brewers

Any team with Christian Yelich at the heart of its order ought to be in pretty good shape. Too bad he can’t also pitch.

The Brewers rotation, which always looks questionable this time of year, is suspect again. Brandon Woodruff is the projected ace, coming off a 2019 season in which he went 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 22 starts. Assume Woodruff, sidelined by injuries for the first half of last season, is healthy…what then?

Milwaukee’s answer involves some combination of Adrian Houser, Brett Anderson, Josh Lindblom, Eric Lauer, and Brent Suter.  Anderson is a junk-baller who did go 13-9 with a 3.89 ERA for Oakland last season, but who between 2016 and 2018 averaged just 48 innings of work.

Lauer went 8-10 with a 4.45 ERA in 29 starts for San Diego. Lindblom, released by the Pirates in 2017, pitched the last two seasons in Korea. Suter and Houser started a combined 18 games last season, working 129 innings with a collective 3.28 ERA. So uncertainty abounds.

The Brewers also lost two significant parts of their lineup in catcher Yasmani Grandal and infielder Mike Moustakas. The Brewers will replace Grandal with Omar Narvaez, a solid hitter but whose lack of defensive skills have gotten him evicted from starting jobs in Chicago and Seattle in consecutive seasons. Milwaukee’s pitching is shaky enough; turning it over to Narvaez is asking for trouble.

The Brewers are looking to Eric Sogard and possibly Ryan Healy to cover for Moustakas at third base. For Toronto and Tampa, Sogard produced a .290 average and 116 OPS+ in 2019. But his 442 plate appearances — about 60 percent of a normal season — were a personal high. He will also be playing a power position without power credentials; his career-best is 13 home runs in 2019.

Finally, like the Astros, the Brewers will be battling history. They won the NL Central in 2018 and finished second as a wild card in 2019. Never in the franchise’s history dating back to 1969 have the Brewers finished first or second in their division for three years running.