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Five Milwaukee Brewers players to watch in 2019

Posted at 8:10 AM, Mar 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-28 09:10:06-04

MILWAUKEE -- 2018 was a magical year for the Milwaukee Brewers and their fans, but now it's 2019. This year will decide if the Brewers were one year wonders, or if they are going to be consistent contenders in MLB.

With a new year comes a new roster that features non-household names. Some of the biggest roster changes from last season include the losses of Wade Miley and Jonathan Schoop, and the signing of Catcher Yasmani Grandal.

Of the five biggest players to watch this season, three are starting pitchers: Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Jimmy Nelson.

  • Corbin Burnes

The hard throwing 24-year-old appeared in 30 games last season, totaling 38 innings. He struck out 35 batters and boasted a 2.61 ERA.

Although it is not official yet, it is very likely that Burnes will be in the Brewers starting rotation this year.

According to MLB writer Adam McCalvy, Burnes was told coming into Spring Training that he was a starter.

Perhaps the most persuading stat was his 11 strikeouts in nine innings of postseason work.

  • Brandon Woodruff

Another candidate expected to be in the starting rotation this season is 26-year-old Brandon Woodruff.

Woodruff is mostly remembered for his two-run bomb off of Clayton Kershaw in Game 1 of the NLCS, but his high velocity and high strikeout rate should be memorable too.

Woodruff had 47 strikeouts in 42 innings in 2018. He also made a few spot starts for the Brewers last season.

Just like Burnes, Woodruff was a key piece in last season's playoff run, often coming in for two to three innings at a time.

  • Jimmy Nelson

The Brewers and Nelson have both said that they aren't concerned about the shoulder injury that sidelined him for the entire 2018 campaign.

Nelson suffered a partially torn labrum and strained rotator cuff while sliding back into first base at Wrigley Field in 2017.

The 29-year-old won't be ready to start the season due to inflammation in his elbow, but Nelson reiterated that this was not a step back in his recovery process.

If Nelson can make a strong return to the starting rotation, it would be monumental for Craig Counsell's pitching staff.

  • Yasmani Grandal

One of the players responsible in defeating the Brewers in the NLCS, Yasmani Grandal, was acquired by the Brewers this off-season.

The catcher gives the Brewers a much needed upgrade at the position offensively.

Grandal slashed .241/.349/.815 with 25 home runs last season in Los Angeles, but struggled to throw runners out.

Both Manny Piña and Grandal only threw out 20 runners last season.

  • Jesús Aguilar

Yes, Jesús Aguilar was an All-Star in 2018, but can he have a complete season in 2019? That is what many are wondering.

Aguilar had a great first-half of the 2018 season, batting .372 in April and .313 in June. After that, the average dipped below .280 and remained around there the rest of the season.

With addition of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the NL Central, Aguilar has a lot of work to do to keep his name alive in a division full of first base talent.