The Milwaukee Brewers have taken big strides to improve their 2018 roster, but must have a quick start to the season to keep up the excitement among their fans and reach the postseason.
Outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain are super additions. They're Gold Glove winners, and will add more pop to the Milwaukee offense.
The pitching staff has also picked up a few additions, although some critics believe they need a No. 1 free agent starter. I disagree. They have a stable of young talent and the offseason acquisitions should bolster the bullpen.
Hopefully, would-be No. 1 starter Jimmy Nelson will return from shoulder surgery sometime in June or July, but I think the starting rotation is in pretty good hands with right-hander Chase Anderson at No. 1, No. 2 righty Zach Davies, plus a No. 3 and No. 4 starter. My guess is the third spot will go to lefty Brent Suter and right-handers Wade Miley or Jhoulys Chacin as No. 4.
Yovani Gallardo, Junior Guerra, Brandon Woodruff and Josh Hader could also be in the mix for a starting spot, although lefty Hader is more suited as a middle/late reliever, or even a closer.
Hopefully, Corey Knebel will have another solid year as a closer and Jeremy Jeffress as his setup man.
However, I believe the big difference for Milwaukee will be the opening month.
While the Brewers open with a three-game road trip at the San Diego Padres, they kick off their home opener with three games against NL Central rivals St. Louis Cardinals followed by four more against the defending division champion Chicago Cubs. Then it's off to St. Louis for three games with three more at the New York Mets.
Milwaukee returns homes on April 16 for a seven-game series - three against the Cincinnati Reds and four against the Miami Marlins. They finish the month on a nine-game road trip to Kansas City for three games, three games against the Cubs in Wrigley Field and three more at Cincinnati.
Baseball gurus maintain pennants aren't won in April, but a poor start could produce a deep hole.
Hopefully, the Brewers will be up to the task and get off to a fast start, not only for themselves, but their fans, too.