On this Thanksgiving, there’s plenty of things us Milwaukee Brewers fans have to be thankful for after a very successful 2018 season.
The 2018 season was a tremendous ride for the Milwaukee Brewers. The team broke their seven year playoff drought, winning a division title along the way and advancing to the NLCS, coming within one game of making the World Series.
Reflecting on the year and at a time to give thanks, here is what us Brewers fans have to be thankful for this year.
What We’re Thankful For
We’re so very thankful that Christian Yelich entered our lives this year. When he was acquired on January 25th, many were excited about the potential and the talent he had, but few predicted an MVP campaign from the 26 year old star outfielder.
If it wasn’t for Yelich and the tear he went on in the second half, the Brewers undoubtedly would’ve lost the division. They probably wouldn’t have advanced as far as they did in the playoffs, and there would’ve been a lot less excitement about baseball in Milwaukee.
A premium player on a team friendly contract that’s the perfect fit for the team and the community is more than anyone could ask for. For that, us Brewers fans are thankful for Christian Yelich.
Cain rejoined the Brewers earlier this year in free agency. While it was an expensive contract, he’s provided tremendous on-field value and off-the-field leadership. He was also in the MVP mix before Yelich ran away with it.
One of the best defensive center fielders in the game, no matter what the Gold Glove awards say, Cain helped transform the top of the Milwaukee Brewers lineup that was lacking a leadoff hitter the year before. Cain and Yelich going 1-2 at the top of the order was a deadly combination.
For the return of Cain, we’re thankful.
The Entire Bullpen
The Brewers, when they weren’t being carried by Christian Yelich, were being carried by their bullpen. Corey Knebel, Josh Hader, and Jeremy Jeffress were three lockdown options for the Crew in late-game situations.
When Knebel struggled in the middle of the season, he was sent down to Triple-A to clear his head and came back stronger than ever. For his return to effectiveness, we’re definitely thankful.
For the season long dominance of Josh Hader, we need to be thankful. For Jeremy Jeffress and his ability to succeed in Milwaukee, we should be thankful. He loves this city and this team, and when he’s at his best, he’s one of the best relievers in the game.
Jhoulys Chacin and Wade Miley
Craig Counsell rode these two guys as much as he could in the postseason. Despite being mediocre starting pitchers most of their careers, Chacin and Miley turned it on at the perfect time this season, having career years in 2018.
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For their successful seasons, which saved the entire rotation from being a failure, we need to be thankful.
The Young Pitching Prospects
Freddy Peralta had a major league debut to remember on Mother’s Day this year, striking out 13 Rockies in a scoreless start. He became an important part of the rotation this year, which helped out big time in place of the injured Zach Davies. He saved this rotation in the middle of the season.
Corbin Burnes converted to the bullpen just to help out this season, and we’re thankful that it worked out so perfectly. Towards the end of the season and the postseason, Burnes basically was the fourth head of that three headed monster in the bullpen. He was as trustworthy as it came in the bullpen, and he covered multiple innings, saving Josh Hader for other games.
Brandon Woodruff was up and down most of the year, but he stayed ready, and when the lights shined brightest in the postseason, he played his best. Woodruff smacked a home run off Clayton Kershaw, pitched a gem in Game 1 of the NLDS and in Game 5 of the NLCS. For his ability to be ready when called upon, we’re thankful.
The Postseason Run
It was seven years since the Brewers last postseason appearance. They made it back this year, and what a run it was! They swept the Rockies on their way to the NLCS. They took the Dodgers to seven games after a wild and energetic Game 6. While Game 7 didn’t live up to the hopes we had, just getting that far given the fact the Brewers only had two reliable starting pitchers is amazing.
Winning the division to earn that postseason appearance was the cherry on top. After years of being tormented by Cubs fans with how great their team is and pretending the Brewers were the little brother and that this wasn’t even a rivalry, it felt so good to put an end to it. To win the division and prove that the Brewers are a dangerous team that can compete with the Cubs was so exhilarating.
For the division title and postseason run that brought this city and this state together, we’re thankful.
Despite all the flak that Counsell got throughout the season for not using Josh Hader enough, Counsell handled the bullpen the right way and was able to manage circles around opposing managers late in the year. He’s the right fit for this team and he got the most out of his players.
Other managers wouldn’t have the kind of creativity needed to get the Brewers as far as Counsell did. His plan for the pitching staff in the postseason was new and unconventional, but it worked. For Counsell being our manager, we’re thankful.
Above all the rest, Brewers fans need to be thankful that David Stearns is our GM. The mastermind behind this roster acquired Yelich, Cain, Chacin, Miley, Jeffress, Mike Moustakas, Jesus Aguilar, and others. He’s the reason why this team is already a World Series contender.
The Astros and Cubs had rebuilds that lasted five-plus seasons. David Stearns had the Brewers turned around and in the postseason in just three. It didn’t involve bottoming out like Houston and Chicago. He’s built an organization based on depth and he has this team ready to win in a title window that will at least last the next 4-5 years.
He’s one of the best GMs in baseball, if not the best. And we have him right here in Milwaukee. For that, we’re very thankful.
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One final thing that us Milwaukee Brewers fans have to be thankful for, is that this ride is not over. There are brighter days ahead with this team, and for that, we must be thankful.