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Milwaukee Brewers Year in Review: Best Pitching Performances

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Burnes, Williams, and Woodruff had the right stuff in 2020

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers came into the 2020 season knowing that they had one of the best relievers in Josh Hader and an emerging top-of-the-rotation starter in Brandon Woodruff. After that, there were questions marks galore regarding Milwaukee’s pitching staff. While not every answer to those question marks was necessarily positive, two pitchers emerged in a big way in 2020 in the form of Corbin Burnes and Devin Williams.

Not surprisingly, the top pitching performances of 2020 came from Williams, Burnes and Woodruff. When we talk about pitching performances, we generally are referring to one-game performances, and that will be the essence of this post. At the same time, Josh Hader started the season without giving up a hit in 12 consecutive appearances. Corbin Burnes was in position to win the ERA title and possibly a Cy Young Award if not for his final start that resulted in injury. And Devin Williams dominated the sport with a 0.33 ERA and a Rookie of the Year Award.

An end-of-the-year post about pitching would be remiss if those accomplishments did not get a mention. However, this post is about the best 1-game pitching performances by Brewers’ pitchers in 2020. There were several good ones, but here are just a few;

Corbin Burnes - 8/28/20 vs. Pittsburgh:

6 IP | 3 H | 0 ER | 1 BB | 10 K

The emergence of Corbin Burnes into a top-flight starter has been something Brewers’ fans have been waiting and hoping to see for a few years. This game demonstrated what Burnes’ potential is all about. Over 6 innings, Burnes carved up Pirates’ hitters with a wipe-out slider, devastating cutter, and paint-the-corners fastball. In the end, the Brewers won the game going away, 9-1. There was no touching Burnes in this outing.

Corbin Burnes - 9/9/20 vs. Detroit:

7 IP | 1 H | 0 ER | 0 BB | 11 K

This was arguably Corbin Burnes’ best pitching performance of the year, and in some ways, the performance wasn’t needed. The Brewers crushed Detroit 19-0, and Tigers’ hitters looked inept against the arsenal that Corbin Burnes had going against on this particular evening. He was pumping 96 mph on the corners of all four quadrants, getting swings and misses on his slider, and getting several framing assists from Jacob Nottingham. As Dan Plesac said during the game, “It is the Corbin Burnes show.”

Brandon Woodruff - 9/11/20 vs. Chicago Cubs:

7 IP | 1 H | 0 ER | 0 BB | 12 K

Brandon Woodruff showed up down the stretch in 2020. One of the big games in which he pitched was against the Cubs on September 11. Cubs’ hitters had no answer for the right hander as he punched out 12 of them, leading the Brewers to a 1-0 victory. Woody was pumping 97-99 mph past Cubs’ hitters all night, and when he had them down, Woodruff put them away with the slider.

Devin Williams - 9/22/20 vs. Cincinnati:

2 IP | 0 H | 0 ER | 1 BB | 5 K

It is hard to believe that Devin Williams gets only one highlight here. Virtually every appearance he made was a contender for one of the spots in top-pitching performances by a Brewers’ pitcher in 2020. This outing does stand out just a bit more than the others. After an initial walk, Williams made Reds’ hitters look silly over 2 innings. In a big spot, Williams played a big role in keeping the Brewers’ playoff hopes alive in this game and throughout September.

Brandon Woodruff - 9/26/20 vs. St. Louis:

8 IP | 2 H | 0 ER | 1 BB | 10 K

Aces show up for big games, and Brandon Woodruff showed up big against St. Louis in his last start of the regular season. Woody absolutely dominated the Cardinals’ lineup. Again he had 97-99 mph going, and Cardinals’ hitters could not catch up. While Williams and Burnes captured the headlines, Woody might have still been the most important Brewers’ pitcher down the stretch in 2020.

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference