The Milwaukee Brewers home opener kicks off at American Family Field

Whether you’re grilling hot dogs with the tailgaters in the American Family Field parking lot or watching the game from home, baseball is back. The Milwaukee Brewers’ 2024 home opener kicks off Tuesday afternoon.

Since last season, the Brewers have seen major staffing changes. Tim Dillard is a former pitcher for the team and is now an analyst on Brewers telecasts on Bally Sports Wisconsin. He joined “Morning Edition” host Alex Crowe to preview the season.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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Alex Crowe: Let’s start with what’s probably considered one of the most controversial moves of the offseason, and that would be the managerial spot. We’ve got Pat Murphy sitting in there at manager now, what can you tell us about him and the change the Brewers made this offseason?

Pat Murphy gestures as he speaks while sitting alongside Rickie Weeks.
Manager Pat Murphy speaks to reporters during a press conference while sitting next to Associate Manager Rickie Weeks, left, on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023, at American Family Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Angela Major/WPR

Tim Dillard: Well, I mean, the controversy I think is pretty apparent. But as far as I can tell, it’s kind of subsided around the organization in general. I mean, it was an easy fit for Pat Murphy to finally get his shot with the Brewers being the second in command and the dugout for so long.

And what I always like is that, as a baseball player, as a coach, you always feel like you could do something better. I mean, how many times I’ve been in the bullpen, I’m screaming, ‘Why are we doing this?’ I feel like Pat Murphy has put together a plan over these many years. And I think it was just his time to come in, build off what they’ve already done, and then add his own mix to it. So it feels like a very natural fit.

AC: Now, let’s get on to what’s actually happening on the field. This is a really important one. Corbin Burnes, a former Cy Young Award winner, is no longer on the Brewers. Brandon Woodruff is injured. So what is this rotation looking like heading into opening day?

TD: Yeah, there’s a lot of question marks. I think last year at this time, we were talking about the bullpen, like who’s going to fill what role in the bullpen. I think as a Brewers fan and Brewers broadcaster, you get a little bit spoiled. Because they had so many good starters that would go back to back to back.

But I think one of the reasons that they were able to move Burnes and felt comfortable doing that is really just Freddy Peralta and what he was able to do in the second half of last season. He went from having flashes of being an ace at times to literally solidifying that role for like 10 or 13 straight starts. It was just incredible what he did. And I think the Brewers were like, this can be our guy moving forward.

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes throws
Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Corbin Burnes throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, July 6, 2022, in Milwaukee. Morry Gash/AP Photo

And also Colin Rea. I mean, Colin Rea was so underrated last year. And I think that’s where you’re gonna see a little bit more Colin Rea going deeper in the ballgame.

So you’re gonna see some new names. But these guys are going to be inning eaters, that’s what they’re going to be looking to do to be able to turn that game over to the bullpen.

AC: The offense is an area where the Brewers have struggled recently … So how are we looking for offense this season when it comes to the Crew?

TD: Well, I mean, you go by spring training…they tied third in runs scored, in RBIs. So that’s a good thing.

But when’s the last time the Brewers solidified first base, right? I think having a guy that can play every day and swing for power is what they want. And that’s what they’re gonna get with Rhys Hoskins.

I mean, William Contreras building off what he did last year. You can kind of go in and around the order. Christian Yelich had the pop last year. Gary Sánchez, he was an extra base hitting machine in spring training.

So I think there’s gonna be a lot of surprises there. And I think they can afford if a guy doesn’t have like an amazing season. And the reason for that is they have proven players that have done some stuff. Look what Willy Adames did in spring training. So I think everybody got red hot at a good time, going into the season because that offense is going to have the pop that they’ve been looking for.

Willy Adames drops his bat after a homer
Milwaukee Brewers’ Willy Adames drops his bat as he watches his two-run home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Saturday, June 5, 2021, in Milwaukee. Aaron Gash/AP Photo

AC: I’m not going to ask you where the Brewers are going to be at the end of this season. But when you look around the division, how did the Brewers kind of shake out against the other teams this year?

TD: Well, I probably smirk every time you see one of those websites saying this is our projections for this year.

The Brewers are going to be good. They’re going to build off what they’ve had over the last six or seven seasons about playing just immaculate defense. The pitching staff is going to come together definitely in the bullpen.

You got some question marks as starting just because of experience but rather than that, I mean, I think they’re a well rounded ball club with depth. And I think that’s probably what’s going to make them successful.

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