In the This Is My Nightmare series, we'll take a look at what the absolute worst case scenario for each team would be in 2013. Think of it as the negative complement to our You May Say I'm A Dreamer series that we'll be running during our preview series.
It’s pretty easy to imagine what the worst nightmare for the 2013 Brewers would be — MLB somehow finding enough evidence in their Biogenesis investigation to (finally, to some) suspend Ryan Braun for 50 games. To this point, nothing actually tying Braun to PEDs from the Miami area anti-aging clinic has surfaced, but if something concrete was found, you can be sure MLB would suspend him, even without a positive test. And since MLB fired the last independent arbitrator for disagreeing with them, it’s probably safe to assume Braun wouldn’t fare so well in an appeal.
So, let’s say Braun is suspended for 50 games. That would be on top of Corey Hart already being out until mid-to-late May rehabbing from offseason knee surgery. There’s also the matter of Aramis Ramirez’s tendency to struggle offensively in April and May. Add all of that up, and you would have a rather punchless offense for the first couple of months from the team that led the National League in runs scored last season.
Even if MLB can’t suspend Braun, there’s plenty of disaster potential for this year’s Brewers. The team is heading into the season with a largely unproven starting rotation, at least behind Yovani Gallardo. Even with Gallardo, though, the rotation is filled with guys who aren’t the most efficient pitchers, racking up high pitch counts and shorter outings than you’d like. The bullpen can only cover up so many 5- and 6-inning starts before it starts to wear down, leading to more blown leads. And god save the Brewers if Gallardo, their only dependable starter, goes down at any point with an injury.
But it’s entirely possible the bullpen implodes again even without having to cover so many innings. The Brewers completely rebuilt the bullpen after last season’s disaster, but you know how bullpens are — nearly impossible to predict on a year-to-year basis. Another bullpen nightmare with different faces could end up derailing another season.
General consensus seems to be the NL Central has two clearly defined tiers: the Reds and Cardinals, and everyone else. With just a couple bad breaks, the Brewers would not only be squarely in that second tier, but possibly trying to fight off the Cubs for last place in the division. And the worst part of that nightmare for Brewers fans? If you’re a believer in farm system rankings — with the Cubs and Pirates ranking much higher than the Brewers, poised to pass them by — that could be where the Brewers are for the foreseeable future.