Milwaukee Brewers: Is Brandon Woodruff a lock for the rotation?

Matthew Dewoskin
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 02: Brandon Woodruff
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 02: Brandon Woodruff /
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It’s been assumed that Brandon Woodruff is a lock for the Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation. Is that assumption really safe, or could he start the year at Colorado Springs?

Brandon Woodruff did a solid job for a banged up Milwaukee Brewers rotation last year. He made eight starts and posted a 4.81 ERA in 43 innings. Woodruff struck out 32 and walked 14. But did he really show enough to earn a rotation spot?

What do the numbers behind the numbers say?

They’re not great. The underlying metrics don’t love Woodruff. His 6.70 K/9 with the Brewers wasn’t as impressive as the 8.36 K/9 he managed in Triple-A. The 4.72 xFIP he posted indicated that his 4.81 actual ERA wasn’t a mirage.

Woodruff also struggled at home and against lefties. He posted a 6.84 ERA with five homers in 25 innings in Miller Park. Woodruff surrendered a .376 wOBA against lefties last year. Both are issues he’ll have to work on.

Can Woodruff succeed with the Brewers?

Sure. Absolutely. Why not? Woodruff will turn 25 before the season starts, but he’s barely started his prime years. He does need to develop his change-up if he wants to effectively pitch against lefties, but he’s well on his way.

Is he better off in Milwaukee or in Colorado Springs?

That really depends on how the off season shakes out. We’re a week away from February and Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Yu Darvish are still looking for contracts. If any of those three land with the Milwaukee Brewers, Woodruff could end up back in Triple-A to start the year.

The Brewers could also deal an outfielder for a starting pitcher. There are a lot of moves left to be made before the pitchers and catchers report. All it takes is one to have Woodruff on the outside looking in.

Zach Davies, Jhoulys Chacin, and Chase Anderson are locked in to the rotation. Add in a top flight starter, and Woodruff could have to fight for his roster spot. At the moment Woodruff is the Brewers fourth starter, but that could change with a few strokes of a pen.

Next: How important is Hernan Perez for 2018?

Woodruff was one of the first prospects to start the current talent cycle, and he’s a solid pitcher who could have a long career. However, his rotation spot isn’t a guarantee. He’s also not a lock to keep his starting spot if he can’t figure out Miller Park or left-handers. Woodruff has the makings of a solid starter, and he could break out in 2018, but he still has a lot to prove.

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