What will Brewers pitcher Aaron Ashby's role be in 2024 now that he's healthy?

The former fourth rounder missed all of 2023 due to injury.

Oct 1, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Aaron Ashby (26) throws a pitch in
Oct 1, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Aaron Ashby (26) throws a pitch in / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

When discussing this year's Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff, a wave of young players get brought up as ones who have big shots at contributing in 2024. DL Hall, Robert Gasser, and Carlos Rodriguez are among the more popular names.

One name that gets forgotten in that mix by some is left-hander Aaron Ashby. He certainly qualifies as young as the 2018 fourth round pick is still only 25 years old, but there's a good reason why he may have fallen off the radar of some Brewers fans.

Fresh off of receiving his first long-term contract extension the previous summer, Ashby suffered a shoulder injury during 2023 spring training. That unfortunately ended up sidelining him for the entire regular season.

With certain certain key pitchers from last year's staff, both in the rotation and bullpen, either gone or injured, there are opportunities up for grabs going into the 2024 season. And yet as Ashby looks to work his way back to the big leagues, no one quite knows how he will be contributing this year.

So now that he is healthy, what will Brewers pitcher Aaron Ashby's role be in 2024?

It's hard to tell what the Brewers might have in store for Ashby based on the action so far this spring. His only Cactus League appearances have come in the form of three innings over two games in which he gave up five earned runs on four hits and four walks. Like everyone else, he was still getting stretched out at that point.

Though he hasn't been seen in anymore Cactus League games recently, he did just get some action with the minor league crew and was reportedly stretched out to five innings in that outing per Curt Hogg of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

That may indicate that the Brewers hope to see Ashby as a part of the rotation as opposed to the bullpen. That wouldn't be surprising considering its state right now. Outside of Freddy Peralta and Colin Rea, anyone else will have to earn a permanent stay in the rotation through performance. And as Wade Miley's absence proves, injuries will surely impact the unit at points this season.

That's not to say that a call to assist the bullpen couldn't be made if it's needed. We know that the Brewers like to cycle through multiple Triple-A relievers over the course of the season and with Hoby Milner likely starting the year as the team's only lefty in the bullpen, it wouldn't be a shocker to see Ashby spend a small stint as a reliever at some point.

One thing we do know is that Ashby will be starting the season in the minors. It was announced early on Friday that the southpaw had been optioned down to Triple-A Nashville, joining some other roster hopefuls in the minors to begin 2024.

The plan always seemed to be to have Ashby as a part of the future Brewers starting rotation and long-term that is still probably what's most likely to happen. For 2024 in particular, though, that role may not be as well-defined and his actual contributions will simply be more based on what the roster needs at the time.