Brandon Woodruff's return won't immediately fix Cubs' rival's rotation problem

Brandon Woodruff re-signed with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday, but his return won't help the team's thin rotation in 2024

Milwaukee Brewers v Miami Marlins
Milwaukee Brewers v Miami Marlins / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

On Monday, the Milwaukee Brewers brought back former ace Brandon Woodruff on a two-year deal, but his shoulder surgery recovery won't allow him to aid a disfigured starting rotation until 2025.

In October, Woodruff underwent shoulder surgery to repair the anterior capsule in his throwing arm. The procedure is expected to leave Woodruff sidelined for most if not all of the 2024 season, which is good news for rivals like the Chicago Cubs because Woodruff would have undoubtedly slotted into the very top of Milwaukee's thin rotation. The 31-year-old has an impressive career ERA of 3.10 and he finished fifth in National League Cy Young voting in 2021.

Just a year ago, the Brewers walked into the season with a rotation featuring Woodruff, strikeout machine Freddy Peralta, and top-5 pitcher in baseball Corbin Burnes. That three-headed monster has been a menace in the NL Central for years at this point, but 2024 will be a different story. Burnes was traded to the Baltimore Orioles earlier this month and with Woodruff's recovery time sidelining him, Peralta will be alone at the top of a much different starting five this season.

Behind Peralta will be 37-year-old Wade Miley, who has thrown a full-season workload just twice over his last six seasons. Former Washington National Joe Ross will likely figure into the equation, who like Miley has had a career mired by injury. Ross has a career ERA of 4.26 and he hasn't pitched in a major league game since 2021. Rounding out the back end will be veteran Colin Rea, who reached a career-high 124.2 innings pitched last year with a 4.55 ERA. The fifth spot is a question mark that the team will have to figure out in Spring Training, but ESPN's depth chart lists prospect Robert Gasser, who has yet to make his Major League debut.

Woodruff's 2025 return will certainly give this rotation a boost but in the short-term, he won't be able to help what looks like the most concerning aspect of the Brewers' roster. It's jarring considering this area is usually the team's core strength. But the lack of quality starters gives the Cubs an opportunity to reclaim the NL Central from Milwaukee, who secured the division with 92 wins last season.

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