The Milwaukee Brewers and GM David Stearns enter the off season looking to bolster the roster in hopes of making another playoff push in 2019. In order to do so, they may have to part ways with a player or two who was a part of last year’s incredible run. Pitcher Brandon Woodruff could be the perfect candidate.
During the 2018 off season, David Stearns made a big splash by trading for Christian Yelich and the free agent signing of Lorenzo Cain. While there may not be as much cap space available this year, the Milwaukee Brewers will look to be aggressive in the free agent or trade markets.
Right-handed pitcher Brandon Woodruff made his Major League debut at the end of 2017. He saw an increased role this past season, specifically in September and October where Woodruff was lights out.
Given his post season success in 2018, this could be the perfect opportunity to package Woodruff in a trade to bring in that high-level pitcher.
Brandon Woodruff in 2018
Woodruff began the season in the minor leagues and for the first half of the season was bounced back-and-forth between the Milwaukee Brewers and Triple-A Colorado Springs.
In the first half of the season, Woodruff was the replacement in the starting rotation for Wade Miley and Zach Davies when they had their DL stints. He made four starts in 2018 and unfortunately struggled at times.
As a starter, Woodruff threw 15 2/3 innings recording a 6.32 ERA while allowing 12 runs on 15 hits. He also added nine walks and had a WHIP of 1.53.
After being sent down for the final time in mid-July, it wouldn’t be until the September call-up date that we would see Woodruff again, this time in the long-reliever role.
Out of the bullpen Woodruff became a huge contributor to the Milwaukee Brewers, especially in the playoffs where he put together some memorable moments.
Although he was not a starter, Woodruff started Game 1 of the NLDS and essentially started Game 5 of the NLCS after Wade Miley was taken out after one batter. He also added the momentum shifting home run off of Clayton Kershaw in the NLCS.
It wasn’t just these moments that made his postseason performance special, Woodruff was solid overall. He finished with an ERA of 2.19 in 12 1/3 innings pitched, allowing three runs on seven hits with three walks.
Why does it make sense to trade Woodruff?
Right now Woodruff’s value to not just the Milwaukee Brewers, but to other teams is at an all-time high. On the biggest stage of October baseball, Woodruff performed at his best and was a big part of Milwaukee’s post season success, showing off the potential that he has.
In fact, he pitched so well that if he is a part of the team come spring training, he is now in the conversation for cracking the starting rotation. This was an idea that wasn’t conceivable in early September.
However, it is going to be a tall task for Woodruff to do so. It would appear at this point that Jhoulys Chacin, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta are locks. The Brewers also have the return of Jimmy Nelson, and the eventual return of Brent Suter to look forward to. The addition of an ace could also occur during the off season via trade or through free agency.
There is the possibility of keeping Woodruff in the long reliever role but as it stands the Milwaukee Brewers still have Junior Guerra along with Zach Davies and Chase Anderson, both of whom could be traded as well.
Since his September call-up, Woodruff was far more effective than all three of these pitchers and definitely has a higher ceiling. Nevertheless, his potential may not be reached in the long reliever role and the Brewers could benefit more from bringing in a top-flight starting pitcher rather than keeping Woodruff in the bullpen with a limited role.
We all know that Stearns and manager Craig Counsell love having a plethora of pitchers available to choose from but your window to make a World Series run is only open for so long and making a trade for a top of the line pitcher is not going to be cheap. Opposing teams are going to want a top prospect or a veteran with a great track record in return.
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Depending on how Woodruff fits into the starting rotation or bullpen in 2019, there’s a possibility that his value is at its highest point currently. The Milwaukee Brewers should be open to capitalizing on that.