Brewers skipper Craig Counsell said today that top starter Brandon Woodruff will make his long-anticipated return tomorrow, as Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was among those to report (Twitter links). He has been sidelined since late July with an oblique strain.
Without any remaining minor-league games to utilize for rehab work, Woodruff will obviously not hit the ground at full stride. The Brewers are clearly planning ahead for a truncated outing, though just how long he’ll last hasn’t been divulged. The club did indicate that veteran lefty Gio Gonzalez will take the ball from Woodruff.
It’ll be interesting to see how the 26-year-old Woodruff throws upon his return. Indications are that the team is bullish on his work to date, though game conditions will pose a different challenge. With a tight postseason race coming down to the wire, Counsell will need to extract as much value as possible from Woodruff while also ensuring he doesn’t push the valuable young pitcher too far too fast.
If the Milwaukee organization is able to sneak into the postseason, Woodruff will be a fascinating part of the picture. He likely won’t be fully built up to shoulder a full starter’s workload, but could be used in tandem fashion. And it stands to reason that his workload might increase with each successive outing, which could make Woodruff a larger and larger factor.
Woodruff will still be short of two full years of MLB service at season’s end, so he’s well shy of arbitration eligibility. But he’s on track to qualify as a Super Two at the end of the 2020 campaign. With ample cheap control remaining, Woodruff is a major piece of the near-future puzzle in Milwaukee. Thus far in 2019, he has thrown 117 2/3 innings of 3.75 ERA ball with a strong combination of 10.4 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.