Brandon Woodruff is proving to be a very successful pitcher since arriving to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Through his first six professional games, Woodruff boasts an ERA of 3.28. It is certainly much needed help considering the Milwaukee Brewers misfortune with starting pitchers as of late. The injury to Jimmy Nelson, and the poor performances of Matt Garza left the team needing someone to step up.
In his most recent outing against the Miami Marlins, Woodruff went seven innings. That gave the bullpen a much needed break. The trend as of late to compensate for the starting pitcher troubles is a remedy called “Johnny Wholestaff.” This is the idea of sending different pitchers out in shorter increments, as opposed to a starter tearing through large chunks of the game.
Success by the numbers
There are a few things that contribute to the overall success that Woodruff is enjoying. A deeper look can be found on Fangraphs.
The standout statistic to this point in his young career is his batting average on balls in play, or BABIP. This number goes a long way to show how much successful contact batters make. Currently, this number sits at .279. Before the eight hit outing against the Marlins, it sat at .259.
But even when the opposition gets hit, they don’t score a lot. 77.9 percent of runners get left on base by Woodruff. The 24 year old showcases a great deal of composure out on the mound. Which will work well for him as his career progresses.
How does Woodruff do it?
Easy answer, he is throwing strikes. As he gets more comfortable on a Major League stage, his walks have been coming down. That is key. In fact, he had no walks in his last start. Throwing strikes may be too simple, but it is an important part of a pitchers success.
The other part is what Woodruff is throwing to the hitters. He features three pitches and doesn’t rely too heavily on one pitch. His fastball averages 94 MPH, and he throws that 61.8 percent of the time, which is pretty normal among pitchers.
What helps him is that he does not neglect any of his pitches. Usually a pitcher will heavily use two or three pitches and leave one that gets thrown maybe twice a month. Woodruff throws his slider more often than his changeup. But the off speed pitches are both utilized at a fairly high rate.
The question now is, can Woodruff keep getting better and finding success?
To over simplify it, the answer is yes.
When deciding if a pitcher can keep up success they have found there are two major components to look at.
One of these is his head. The more he pitches, the more hitters will learn his tendencies and pick up on things like that. But, so far, Woodruff is proving he can adjust and grow for the Milwaukee Brewers. Though it is not directly related, the composure he carries while on the mound says a lot about the strength of his mental game.
The second major component are his mechanics. This can be a tricky and long explanation, because there are so many different moving parts to a delivery. Not to mention just as many schools of thought on what good mechanics look like. But Woodruff has repeatable mechanics and that is key.
He strides out well. His arms create a small amount of drag, which is good for future arm health. And he gains a solid amount of torque by using impressive shoulder flexibility. Being flexible is key for Woodruff in his delivery. It looks like he lands open and already in a throwing motion, which is not good, but he actually is not. The reason he looks open is because the flexibility in his shoulders allows him to cock his arm back so far. That gives him a ton of power behind the ball.
Woodruff is an exciting arm to have moving forward. Under the lights of a Milwaukee Brewers playoff race he is only getting better. He should be an important part to the pitching staff for years to come.