The Brewers will go without their best starter, Brandon Woodruff, for approximately six weeks after he suffered an oblique strain Sunday. Woodruff’s absence could make it all the more imperative for the Brewers to add a starter before the July 31 trade deadline, but general manager David Stearns conveyed a lack of urgency on the matter Tuesday.
Asked if the Brewers now feel more pressure to address their rotation, Stearns said (via Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel): “I don’t know that we can let his temporary absence impact how we manage the deadline. I have found that potential acquisition costs generally dictate what is reasonable and what is not.”
With only about nine weeks left in the regular season, it’s probably not reassuring to Brewers fans to hear their GM brush off Woodruff’s absence as “temporary.” Even before the emergent right-hander went down, there was a strong case Milwaukee needed to pick up another starter prior to the end of the month. For what it’s worth, the team did reportedly show interest in the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard–Zack Wheeler duo (links here) and the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner (link) back when Woodruff was healthy.
As for the Brewers’ current options, Zach Davies has prevented runs to an impressive degree, but his peripherals don’t inspire nearly as much confidence. Chase Anderson has turned in fine results, though he has only completed six innings in one start. Jhoulys Chacin’s season has been calamitous. Gio Gonzalez just returned from an almost two-month absence because of a dead arm, and has only averaged five frames per outing when he has taken the ball. Adrian Houser had been in the rotation out of desperation before Gonzalez came back last weekend, but the production he has posted as a starter and reliever indicates he’s much better off in a bullpen role.
The flaws in the Brewers’ rotation have helped lead to several weeks of underwhelming play from the club, though it’s still smack dab in the playoff hunt. With a 53-46 record, the reigning NL Central champions are two games behind the division-leading Cubs and 1 1/2 out of a wild-card spot. Of course, it would have been a challenge for the Brewers to clinch their second straight playoff berth for the first time since 1982 even if Woodruff had avoided the IL. Now, if the team doesn’t adequately replace Woodruff in the next week, its chances of fading from the race seem likely to increase.