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2020 Most Valuable Brewer #3: Brandon Woodruff

Limited run support did not take away from another fine season for Woody

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Woodruff came into 2020 as the Milwaukee Brewers’ ace. Whether he makes your definition of ace or not, he has certainly pitched like top-of-the-rotation arm for the Brewers these past two years. In 2020, His numbers show it too. Woodruff produced a 3.05 ERA and a 3.20 FIP, and he struck out more than 11 per 9.

Exit velocity against, hard hit percentage against, xwOBA, xERA, xBA, xSLG, K%, and fastball velocity are all rate highly. Everyone of these metrics suggest that he should be one of the best pitchers in baseball. His overall results suggest he pitched like one.

Unfortunately, the Brewers lost more than they won in Brandon Woodruff starts. Woodruff was 3-5 on the season, and in old school terms, that would mean a bad season on the part of the Brewers’ pitcher. Woodruff was nothing short of outstanding in 2020.

In the six Woodruff starts that the Brewers won, Brandon Woodruff participated in shutting out the other team three times. In the seven Woodruff starts the Brewers lost, the Brewers scored just 12 runs. As was the case in a multitude of games this season, the Brewers’ offense was M.I.A. when Woodruff pitched.

Woodruff may have been his best down the stretch as he attempted to put the Brewers on his back. In his last four starts Woodruff gave up just four runs and struck out 40 hitters across 27.2 innings. He was borderline dominant.

Yet Milwaukee was 2-2 in those games. As was the case the entire year, Milwaukee often failed to take advantage of excellent pitching performances by the big right-hander. Obviously, Woodruff did his part to keep the Brewers in playoff contention down the stretch.

With Corbin Burnes, Devin Williams, Ryan Braun, and others out for Game 2 of the Wild Card Series and in a must win situation, Craig Counsell turned to Woodruff. Woody was okay, but he faced a Clayton Kershaw that was on his game. The Dodgers got to the fifth inning of the playoff game. Mookie Betts lined a double down the line that scored three, and the result was the end of the Brewers’ 2020 season.

Brandon Woodruff had a strong 2020 campaign. With Corbin Burnes taking a huge step in 2020, the future is bright for the Brewers’ starting rotation. In 2021 look for Woodruff to be an under-the-radar candidate for the Cy Young by the end of the season.