Posted on July 21, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Milwaukee Brewers got a much-needed win on Sunday, but the team also suffered a big loss in the injury department. Starter Brandon Woodruff appeared headed toward the 10-day Injured List after leaving Sunday’s game with an oblique injury. The Brewers will learn more about how much time he’ll miss on Monday. But Woodruff going to the IL is a huge blow for a team that’s in the middle of both a division and Wild Card race.
Woodruff struggled during the early portion of his start on Sunday. He allowed four runs in the first three innings and then showed signs of discomfort two pitches into the 4th inning. After a short visit from Brewers manager Craig Counsell and the team’s trainer, Woodruff walked off the mound and left the game.
“I came out for the fourth inning there and warmup pitches were all good, and then that first pitch I threw in the fourth, I kind of felt a little grab, nothing too big,” Woodruff explained after the game. “But then, the second pitch, I really felt it grab pretty good. Hopefully it’s precautionary, hopefully it doesn’t take too long, hopefully I’ll get over it pretty quick and get back to pitching.”
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The injury has interrupted a breakout season for Woodruff, who was named to the All-Star Team earlier this month. In 20 starts, he’s 11-3 with a 3.75 ERA. After contributing as both a starter and reliever last season, particularly in the postseason, Woodruff has developed into a key part of Milwaukee’s rotation this season. There’s no doubt that the Brewers will feel the weight of his absence, regardless of how much time he ends up missing.
Outside of Woodruff, Zach Davies and Chase Anderson have been Milwaukee’s most reliable starters this year. But when you take Woodruff out of the equation, serious questions are raised about the back end of the rotation. Jhoulys Chacin has underperformed while Gio Gonzalez has only just returned from a nearly two-month-long stint on the IL. With Woodruff out for the time being, the Brewers will likely need to find an extra starter to fill the void.
At first glance, Adrian Houser and Freddy Peralta are the most likely candidates to replace Woodruff in the rotation. Houser was just moved to the bullpen when Gonzalez returned. However, he’s 0-4 with a 7.83 ERA in six starts this year. Peralta has also been far more effective pitching out of the bullpen. In eight starts this year, he’s 2-2 with a 7.07.
Needless to say, there is likely to be a huge drop-off between Woodruff and whoever the Brewers add to their rotation to replace him. The injury to Woodruff could force the club to trade for a starter before the July 31 trade deadline. Milwaukee already appeared to be a team in need of a starter. But losing Woodruff, even if it’s for only a couple of weeks, makes them even more desperate to add rotation help.
At the moment, the Brewers are two games behind the Cubs in the NL Central and are clinging to the second Wild Card spot in the National League. With four teams within 2.5 games of them in the Wild Card race, losing Woodruff for as little as two or three starts could end up making the difference between making the postseason and not making it. Unless they can find a way to adequately replace him, losing Woodruff to injury could be what causes Milwaukee’s downfall in 2019.