Pitchers and Catchers have already reported to Arizona. One of the biggest questions going into Spring Training is who will lock down the back end of the Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation. One of those spots should go to Brandon Woodruff.
Who are the available options?
Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, and Jhoulys Chacin are almost guaranteed the first three spots in the Milwaukee Brewers rotation. After that, there are six pitchers looking to grab two spots. The six are Brandon Woodruff, Brent Suter, Aaron Wilkerson, Yovani Gallardo, Junior Guerra and Wade Miley.
Let’s start with Suter. Last year he was one of the bright spots on the team and became an important piece for the Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff. The team needed a starter and he filled that role admirably. He started 14 games for the Brewers and had a very respectable 3.42 ERA in 81 innings pitched. Suter’s issue is that 10 times in his 14 starts, he couldn’t make it past the fifth inning. If this trend continues in 2018, it will put a lot of pressure on the bullpen to perform well and eat up innings.
Wilkerson is a great story. He went from stocking shelves at a local grocery store to a Major League roster. He has done well in the minors. Scouting reports indicate he is a guy with average stuff, but good location. Last fall he started two games for the Brewers. He had one bad outing and one really good one. Wilkerson is a solid option if an injury occurs to one of the top five.
Gallardo is back with the Milwaukee Brewers after one year stints with Texas, Baltimore and Seattle. Once the ace of the Brewers, he is now fighting for a spot on the team.
The last two years have not been kind to Gallardo. While in Baltimore and Seattle he had an ERA well over 5.00 and a total of 11 wins. He hasn’t had a good season in about three years. He may not earn a spot in the rotation even though reports indicate his velocity is up to around 94 MPH.
Guerra had a great rookie year in 2016, and earned the job of Opening Day starter in 2017. He got hurt on Opening Day, came back later in the year, and pitched poorly. By the end of the year, Guerra was pitching out of the bullpen. His ability to regain control of his splitter will be the deciding factor of any future success.
Finally, there is Miley. To establish more pitching depth Wiley was signed to a Minor League deal. He has really struggled the last two years, but is a guy who can eat some innings if necessary.
What’s the case for Woodruff
Woodruff is a Top 100 prospect in most rankings. He also pitched well throughout most of his Minor League career. His only difficult time in the Minors came last year at Colorado Springs, and most pitchers struggle in the Pacific Coast League.
He had an up and down year his first year in the majors. While he struggled at certain points, he showed some real potential at others. By all accounts he seems to have the stuff to become a solid Major League starter.
Sending Woodruff back to Triple-A won’t do him any good. It’s clear that he can pitch there. It’s time to see what the Milwaukee Brewers have in one of their top prospects. The best way to do that, at this point in his career, is to put him into the rotation. 2018 may be a year that he goes through a few more growing pains, but he needs to make as many starts at the Major League level as possible.