On Friday the 13th, Milwaukee Brewers fans received some fittingly scary news, that Brandon Woodruff will miss most, if not all of the 2024 Milwaukee Brewers season after having shoulder surgery. While losing your second best, and at times best, pitcher to injury is never a good thing, the Brewers may just be able to withstand it with several internal options.
Replacing Brandon Woodruff may seem impossible, he would be an ace on most teams in Major League Baseball. However, what is possible, is keeping up the standard of the Milwaukee Brewers to have great pitching. The Brewers have several options, including calling up some younger players, that they could bring into the fold.
Internal candidates to take Brandon Woodruff's place in 2024 rotation: Robert Gasser
It was my belief even before the Woodruff surgery news that Robert Gasser needs to be in the Milwaukee 2024 starting rotation. Gasser, the Crew's No. 5 prospect, led all of Triple-A pitchers in strikeouts in 2023. His 166 strikeouts would have ranked third on the Brewers in 2023 behind only Freddy Peralta and Corbin Burnes, who were over the 200 strikeout mark.
Gasser is 24 years old and was part of the return the Brewers received when trading Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres in 2022. Gasser pitched 135.1 innings in 2023 and had a 3.79 ERA. That earned run average would have been fourth in the Brewers starting rotation behind Burnes, Wade Miley, and the now sidelined Brandon Woodruff.
It's not hard to see how Robert Gasser starting in 2024 could potentially slot in as the Brewers' third best starter. The Brewers will have Aaron Ashby back and probably Adrian Houser as well and could roll with a five man rotation of Burnes-Peralta-Gasser-Houser-Ashby and have a pretty balanced rotation with three righties and two lefties.
Internal candidates to take Brandon Woodruff's place in 2024 rotation: Wade Miley
Wade Miley is kind of an internal option, kind of not. He and the Brewers have a mutual option for the 2024 season worth $10 million. This option may be too high for the Brewers to be willing to stake on a 37-year-old pitcher who dealt with some minor injuries in 2023. However, his option includes a $1MM buyout and the Brewers could buy Miley out and then negotiate a smaller one-year deal.
Miley thrived in the 2023 season with the new pitch clock with his pace of play seeming to fit perfectly with the new rule changes. Outside of Brandon Woodruff's limited innings, Miley had the best ERA in the Brewers starting rotation at 3.14, making him one of the Brewers' more consistent starters. And as Bally Sports stats reporter Dominic Cotroneo pointed out, Miley was second on the team behind only Corbin Burnes in appearances over five innings pitched and zero earned runs with six.
Internal candidates to take Brandon Woodruff's place in 2024 rotation: Carlos F. Rodriguez
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 draft, Carlos F. Rodriguez already has a solid amount of minor league experience. He pitched 128.1 innings in the minor leagues this year, 123.2 of those innings being at Double-A Biloxi. With the Shuckers, he had a 2.77 ERA and pitched a very strong strikeout/walk ratio: 11.06 strikeout percentage to 3.86 walk percentage.
Rodriguez is the Brewers' No. 6 prospect. He has a really good balance of pitches that he can rely on - fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup - with good control. Rodriguez had 152 strikeouts in his 123.1 Double-A innings and may be up as early as 2024, just maybe not on the Opening Day roster.
Rodriguez, as far as experience is concerned, is not far behind Gasser, but he spent most of his season in Double-A, though he did make one start in Triple-A for the Nashville Sounds at the end of the year. Rodriguez may not be as strong of a candidate to take Woodruff's spot in the rotation as Gasser but could still be in the mix.
Internal candidates to take Brandon Woodruff's place in 2024 rotation: Jacob Misiorowski
Jacob Misiorowski is the Brewers' No. 3 prospect and could be a dark horse for the rotational void created by Brandon Woodruff's absence.
If the Brewers wanted to go for a player whose profile somewhat lines up with Brandon Woodruff's, they could continue the youth movement they started in 2023 and bring up Misiorowski. He has an electric fastball that reaches over 100 MPH and a good slider and curveball. He has major league stuff, but he needs more experience.
Misiorowski would be completely skipping Triple-A if the Brewers decided to use him in place of Woodruff. He was drafted in the second round in the 2022 draft and has already made it to the Double-A level after pitching extremely well in High-A ball for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. In 23.2 innings for the Timber Rattlers, Misiorowski had a 1.90 ERA and a .254 batting average against.
Misiorowski had some growing pains in Double-A with a 5.57 ERA in 21 innings and his walk rate did go up about 1.5 percent, but his strikeout percentage jumped nearly five percent also. So Misiorowski is very green behind the ears when it comes to the fact that he's pitched just just 73 career minor league innings, but the Milwaukee Brewers did call up Abner Uribe this season despite a very short minor league career and he pitched admirably and even made the postseason roster, so there is a precedent here.
The odds of perfectly replacing a player like Woodruff are very low. But if the Brewers decide to fill his rotation spot internally, it's good to know that they have some decent options.