TODAY: Skipper Craig Counsell says the organization anticipates about a six-week absence, as Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was among those to cover on Twitter. More will be known after the club learns the results of a full examination and MRi today.
YESTERDAY: The Brewers are placing Brandon Woodruff on the 10-day injured list after the right-hander suffered a left oblique injury during today’s game. (Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel was among those to report the news.) Woodruff was two pitches into the fourth inning of today’s start against Arizona when he suffered the injury, and left the game after a visit from the team trainer.
An MRI is scheduled for Monday to determine the extent of the injury, though the best-case scenario is at least a couple of weeks on the IL. Depending on the severity, many oblique injuries usually require a month or more of recovery time, so the Brewers could potentially be without arguably their best starting pitcher for much (or all) of the pennant race.
Woodruff emerged as both a starter and a multi-inning bullpen weapon for the Brewers down the stretch and into the postseason last year, and earned enough trust from Milwaukee brass to begin the season in the rotation. That decision proved to be a great one, as Woodruff ended up earning a spot on the NL All-Star team. Including today’s abbreviated outing against the D’Backs, Woodruff has posted a 3.75 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and only a 2.22 K/BB rate over 117 2/3 innings in 2019. As per Statcast numbers, he has been one of the league’s best pitchers at limiting exit velocity and hard-hit contract, holding opposing batters to a .286 xwOBA.
Woodruff has been a stabilizing force within a Brewers rotation that has generally delivered middle-of-the-pack numbers this year. Among the most frustrating parts of Woodruff’s injury was that Milwaukee’s starters were beginning to show signs of rounding into form as a whole, as Gio Gonzalez was back from an IL stint and Chase Anderson has quietly re-established himself as a solid starter after beginning the season in the bullpen. Zach Davies has also continued to pitch well in terms of bottom-line results, posting a 2.79 ERA despite some questionable advanced metrics. In terms of a short-term replacement for Woodruff, Adrian Houser is likely the top choice to pick up starts in Woodruff’s place, though a pair of upcoming off-days on the schedule means that a fifth starter likely won’t be needed until sometime next week.
Today’s news will only intensify the Brewers’ search for pitching at the trade deadline, as the team had already been linked to such names as Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler, and Noah Syndergaard on the starter front, and the Giants’ Will Smith as a potential bullpen upgrade. Despite some unimpressive play in recent weeks, the Brewers are still in possession of an NL wild card berth, and are two games behind the Cubs for first place in the NL Central. GM David Stearns said earlier this week that his club was planning to be deadline buyers, though left the door to perhaps standing pat (or at least not making any major splashes) unless the Brewers started to string together some wins. Today’s win over the D’Backs gave Milwaukee five victories in its last six games.