Milwaukee Brewers to host Pittsburgh Pirates this weekend

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After a disappointing series to open the year on the road against the Cincinnati Reds, Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates are heading north to Miller Park to take on the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game weekend series.

Pittsburgh (0-3) and Milwaukee (0-3) are both winless heading into the weekend tilt, so ahead of the opener on Friday, we sat down with Peter Schwichtenberg of Reviewing the Brew, the FanSided site that covers the Brew Crew to assess the team’s situation early on in the 2015 season.

RB: How are the Brewers dealing with the Ryan Bruan injury in the short-term?  What are the team’s long term plans with Braun?

With Gerrardo Parra defensively the outfield has not missed a beat, but missing Braun’s bat has been another story.  After a shaky start to spring going 0-for-13, Braun had an incredible finish.  Not having his bat was a big problem in the Rockies series as the team struggled to score runs.  He was able to pinch hit in the ninth inning of Wednesdaynight’s game and he is expected to be good to go for the weekend.

His future is a big concern with his injury riddled history.  He is locked up until 2020 so right field is his now and for the foreseeable future.  He needs to quickly return to health and play in at least 140 games this season for confidence to be put back into him.  If he could get even close to his MVP form he would be a huge difference-maker.

RB: Can Brewers’ catcher Jonathan Lucroy duplicate his breakout 2014 season?

Lucroy has taken over as the face of the franchise in Milwaukee and we he is fully expected to build on his stellar 2014.  After setting the doubles record for catchers last season he has developed into on of the games elite offensive catchers.  After a blazing spring, he has gotten off to a slow start, but don’t expect his bat to be down for long.

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He may never hit more than 15-to-20 home runs in a season, but I see him as a consistent .290 hitter who will continue to be a dangerous weapon in the two-spot for the Brewers for a long time.

RB: Can Carlos Gomez sneak into the National League MVP discussion this year? How big of a year are you expecting from him?

If he plays up to his potential Gomez has enough talent to be the best player in the game.  As the team’s leadoff batter, I feel that he has the tools better suited to be a middle of the order hitter.  When he runs into issues it is often because he is too aggressive at both the plate and in the field.

I am expecting another All-Star season from Gomez in which he bats .285, hits between 20-to-25 home runs and steals between 35-to-40 bases.  If things go as planned this season, he is expected to be a top-five MVP finisher.

RB: How much will Milwaukee feel the loss of Yovadi Gallardo this season in the starting rotation?

As a nine-year member of the rotation and a pitcher often viewed as an ace, Yovani Gallardo will be missed, but the Brewers have more than enough talent to make up for his loss. Wily Peralta looks ready to take over as ace and the backend of the rotation could be one of the most underrated groups in the league.

Mike Fiers was incredible last season in the second half of the season, and he has a great track record of success in the minor leagues.  Jimmy Nelson had little luck in the majors last season and struggled this spring, but he too has proven successful at every level in his career.  There will be growing pains, but I think that they have enough potential to have an even better rotation than last season.

You can find more from Peter Schwichtenberg over at Reviewing the Brew on a regular basis or on Twitter at @schwick26_pete.

Next: Three takeaways from the Pirates - Reds series

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