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Woodruff Positioned Solidly as the Opening Day Starter

Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher Brandon Woodruff started the 2020 Spring Training season where he left off in 2019.  In ten innings and four starts this spring, the big righty has surrendered only two earned runs while tallying eight strikeouts and three walks.  His 1.80 ERA has Woodruff positioned solidly as the opening day starter, pending the suspension of play due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Woodruff cemented himself into the Brewer’s starting line up during the 2019 season.  In 22 starts, Woodruff went 11-3 with a 3.62 ERA in 121.2 innings.  His solid performance earned Woodruff an All-Star appearance and a start against the Washington Nationals in the 2019 playoffs.  While the Brewers ultimately lost this play-in game, Woodruff threw four solid innings, allowing only one run and striking out three.  He posted career numbers in 2019, totaling 143 strikeouts with only 30 walks.

Woodruff With Milwaukee

The Brewers selected Woodruff in the eleventh round of the 2014 draft out of Mississippi State University.  He posted solid numbers for the next several seasons in the Brewers’ minor-league system, both as a starter and out of the bullpen.  Woodruff came to the Brewers during the 2017 season, making eight spot starts and finishing with a 2-3 record.  In his time with the team, Woodruff showed he had the talent to contribute in Milwaukee. 

Woodruff spent the 2018 season between the Brewers and the minor-league system.  In Milwaukee, he worked primarily as a reliever but earned his way into the starting rotation later in the season.  Woodruff threw a total of 41.1 innings and made four starts, earning a 4-4 record.  His respectable 3.62 ERA earned him postseason starts against both the Colorado Rockies and the Los Angeles Dodgers.  In 12.1 innings of postseason work, Woodruff has posted a minuscule 1.49 ERA with 20 strikeouts versus only three walks.  As a bonus, Woodruff hit a home run off Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw in the 2018 National League Division Series.    

Woodruff as a Starter

Woodruff’s talent as a hurler has improved with each season.  He relies primarily on his four-seam fastball which ranges between 96 and 98 MPH.  Woodruff also has a two-seam fastball but lives primarily with his four-seamer which displays good sinking movement.

Woodruff also brings an above-average slider which reaches between 86 and 89 MPH.  His slider has a tendency to flatten out, which leaves Woodruff with his circle changeup.  Criticism of his changeup is that it tends to have too much velocity, but possesses good to great movement.

Woodruff’s fourth pitch is his curveball, which is scouted as a work in progress. This pitch will make an appearance from time to time, yet Woodruff is more apt to live with his fastball-slider-changeup combo.  His command of these pitches is above average and Woodruff has added MPH to his fastball in the past several seasons.  This indicates he is improving with his technique and has yet to hit his ceiling.

Woodruff will inevitably begin stretching out his pitch count in his coming starts.  He will have the hometown crowd in his corner for the season opener in Milwaukee, should he earn the nod from manager Craig Counsel. His good start to the 2020 season has Woodruff positioned solidly as the opening day starter, whenever that is. 

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