Notes: 2021 schedule unveiled; Hader goes slow

July 9th, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- Major League Baseball took a moment to look ahead to 2021 when the league dropped regular-season schedules for all 30 teams on Thursday, including a Brewers slate set to begin against an old American League rival.

Milwaukee is scheduled to open next season at renamed American Family Field against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, April 1, which will mark the third time in franchise history those clubs meet in a season opener. The Brewers dropped Phil Garner’s managerial debut at home in 1992, two decades after the teams also opened the season in '71 with a Milwaukee win on the road at Metropolitan Stadium.

The 2021 season will mark the first time that the Brewers begin a campaign with Interleague Play, but that’s not the only quirk of next season's schedule:

• The Brewers play the Cubs nine times in April and the Cardinals a whopping 10 times in September. After opening at home against the Twins, the Crew will head to Chicago for the start of a six-game road trip, beginning with three at Wrigley Field. The Brewers and Cubs will also meet from April 12-14 at American Family Field and from April 23-25 back at Wrigley. After that, they don’t play again until the final three days of June.

• There will be seven consecutive games between the Brewers and Reds in July. The clubs play four games in Milwaukee from July 8-11 to finish the first half of the season, then they play again at Great American Ball Park for a three-game series coming out of the All-Star break from July 16-18.

• Instead of reprising the Interleague games against AL East foes that had to be nixed this season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the schedule moves on to matchups against the AL Central. Besides the opening series against the Twins, the Brewers will host the Tigers (May 31-June 1), Royals (July 20-21) and White Sox (July 23-25). Milwaukee will play road Interleague games at Kansas City (May 18-19), Minnesota (Aug. 27-29), Cleveland (Sept. 10-12) and Detroit (Sept. 14-15).

• The Brewers’ longest homestand is their last, a 10-game stretch against the Cubs (three games), Cardinals (four games) and Mets (three games) from Sept. 17-26. Then they finish on the road with a potentially tough trip to St. Louis (Sept. 28-30) and Los Angeles to face the Dodgers (Oct. 1-3).

Game times will be announced at a later date.

Hader spent shutdown working on offspeed
It’s likely that 's fastball will always be his best pitch, but the two-time National League Reliever of the Year said he spent the past three months working on the other elements of his arsenal.

“The quarantine, really, was just focusing on trying to create the shapes of my pitches,” said Hader, who began the project in Spring Training with the assistance of the team’s high-speed cameras. “So really dialing in on the changeup was one of the biggest things for me, and then moving to the slider. Just trying to make sure my secondary pitches are shaped tight and they are pretty sharp. That's kind of one of the biggest things for me.”

Without a catcher during the break, Hader threw into a net. Now that he’s back in Summer Camp with the Brewers, he has had the opportunity to pair with a catcher and see how hitters react to those in-progress pitches. Hader threw two days of live batting practice during the opening days of camp.

Hader is cognizant that he will have to find ways to recreate the adrenaline supplied by a packed stadium in the ninth inning of a close game. That’s just one of the things on his mind as the Brewers and other teams attempt to get through the 2020 season safely and in good health.

“It’s really just doing the right thing, really thinking about more than yourself,” Hader said. “It’s more than just really what we do. It’s the families that are around. It’s the league. It’s just being smart on that and doing what we can to prevent spreading anything and it spreading to the extended circle.”