Brewers don’t let expectations influence their approach
NL Central’s defending champions Milwaukee Brewers say their unknown status as preseason division favorites shouldn’t impact their approach.
“My mindset is that it’s not helping us in any way,” manager Craig Counsell said Wednesday. “If you could tell me how he did it I would use it, but that doesn’t help you in any way.”
While a few of their division rivals have lost notable players, the Brewers have retained the core of a team that won 95 games a year ago. They believe they have a roster capable of making franchise history by winning a second straight division title and competing for their first World Series appearance since 1982.
But they didn’t want to look that far ahead of their season opener Thursday with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
“You can’t really set expectations like, ‘Hey, we want to win this many games and make the World Series,'” reigning Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes said. put the pressure on.”
The Brewers Division is quite different from what it was a year ago.
The Cubs traded Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo at the trade deadline last year. The Cincinnati Reds traded Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez and Sonny Gray and lost Nick Castellanos to free agency. The Pittsburgh Pirates are coming off a 101-game losing season.
That leaves the St. Louis Cardinals as the Brewers’ most imposing division rival heading into the season. The Cardinals fired manager Mike Shildt and replaced him with Oliver Marmol after losing 90-72 and losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a wildcard game last season.
It was in 1981-82 that the Brewers came closest to winning back-to-back divisional championships. The 1981 team won the AL East second-half title and had the best overall record in the division when a strike that year resulted in a split-season format, but they lost against first-half champion New York Yankees in the playoffs.
“I feel like the mentality this year is just to be in the present, forget about the future, and be the best version of yourself every day,” the shortstop said. Willy Adams.
Milwaukee has reached the playoffs each of the past four years. Prior to that streak, the Brewers had only made a total of four playoff appearances in the history of a franchise launched in 1969 as the Seattle Pilots.
There are many reasons to believe that this team can go five games in a row.
Burnes and fellow All-Stars Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta lead a rotation that ranks among the best in baseball. The Brewers also have one of the game’s best shooters in three-time All-Star Josh Hader. The Brewers are confident the additions of 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe can bolster a roster that struggled to stay cohesive last year, although a rebounding season from 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich would also help.
“We know how good we can be,” second baseman Kolten Wong said. “We know the talent we have in this roster and we really haven’t seen it all together. There’s definitely some excitement about it collectively across the team. We’re just ready to go.
McCutchen said the Brewers’ recent success played a major role in his decision to come to Milwaukee. At a press conference Wednesday, McCutchen noted that his legs were shaking as he sat at a table because he was so excited for the upcoming season.
“With the amount of talent that we have in the order, if the guys come out and they can be themselves, I think the sky’s the limit for our team,” McCutchen said.
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