Tuesday night, Brandon Woodruff made his triumphant return to the field after being out since July 21st with an oblique strain. He was going up against Padres’ ace and rookie sensation, Chris Paddack. Before his injury, Woodruff was Milwaukee’s ace and the anchor of the pitching staff. He was 11-3 with an ERA of 3.75 in 117.2 innings. He had struck out 136 batters and had a WHIP of 1.173. His best stretch came from April 27th through May 26th. In that span, Woodruff had made 6 starts and went 6-0 with an elite ERA of 1.42 in 38 innings pitched. He had also recorded 43 strikeouts and held opponents to a batting average of just .178. Because of his incredible start to the season, Brandon Woodruff made the 2019 All-Star game in a move that nobody would have predicted in the preseason.
It wasn’t just his pitching that made Woodruff a fan-favorite. He had a very good bat too, if it wasn’t for his injury he would be the front runner for the pitchers Silver Slugger Award. In 50 plate appearances he had a .267 BA with 4 doubles and 4 RBIs. He was even put in the game as pinch hitter on some occasions. Woodruff provided a lot to the Brewers when it came to pitching and hitting so when he went down, it was a devastating blow to the team and fans alike.
Going into Tuesday’s game, Woodruff was put on a pitch count. On his rehab tour he was throwing 40-45 pitches during simulated games and that was his limit on Tuesday. He ended up throwing 37 pitches, 23 of them were strikes, in 2 complete innings pitched. His final stat line read, 2 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, and 4 strikeouts. He lowered his season ERA from 3.75 to 3.69. The first batter Woodruff faced was San Diego’s utility man, Greg Garcia, who he struck out and then received thunderous applause from the Milwaukee faithful. The next batter, Nick Martini, hit a dribbler to Eric Thames in which Woodruff had to make the cover which he successfully did. Manny Machado was up next who he walked on a 3-2 count but it wasn’t before Woodruff threw his hardest pitch of the night which was a 99 mph fastball. With 1 on and 2 outs, Woodruff had to pitch from the stretch and made quick work of Eric Hosmer by striking him out to end the inning.
After a strikeout to end the 1st, Woodruff started the 2nd the same way. He struck out 31-homer hitter, Hunter Renfroe, on a nasty moving slider. Manuel Margot was up next and the Brewer pitcher got him to break his bat and hit a weak ground ball to Cory Spangenberg for the 2nd out. The final batter of his 2 inning outing was Fernando Tatis Jr.’s replacement, Luis Urías. Woodruff started the at-bat down in the count 3-0 but was able to come all the way back to strike out Urías on a 97 mph, high-outside fastball.
Woodruff’s return to the mound was very promising. His fastball had great velocity and his slider had great movement. He was able to locate these pitches on the corners to each hitter he faced. I don’t want to overreact based on 2 innings but I’m going to anyways. It looks like we got our ace back.