After just two innings in game one of the NLCS, Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell went to reliever Brandon Woodruff out of the bullpen, and he was phenomenal. This raises the question, should Woodruff get a start in this series?
In the first half of the season, the Milwaukee Brewers had Brandon Woodruff in the starting rotation. In fact he made four stars on the season, including Game 1 of the NLDS. Early on in the season he was inconsistent, but Woodruff was able to show flashes of brilliance but for the most part was unable to string together a solid five- or six-inning outing.
As a starter Woodruff has an ERA of 6.32 in 15 2/3 innings, while giving up 15 hits, 12 runs and nine walks. This led to Woodruff being yo-yo’ed between the Milwaukee Brewers and Triple-A Colorado Springs, before eventually being taken out of the starting rotation and placed in the long reliever role.
However that was over the first half of the season, which at this point seems like ages ago. As of late, Woodruff has been very reliable and has shown that the post season lights are not too bright for him.
Woodruff’s last month
Once rosters expanded to 40 players on September first, Woodruff was called back up to be apart of the Milwaukee Brewers final month of the regular season.
Since returning and finding his role as a long reliever along side Corbin Burnes, Woodruff has been lights out. He has appeared in seven games and thrown 12.1 innings. During that time Woodruff has allowed just ten hits, one run, three walks and has an ERA of 0.73.
But as good as Woodruff was in September, he’s been even better in his two post season appearances.
Woodruff started game one of the NLDS against the Rockies in what was labeled a ‘bullpen game’ for the Milwaukee Brewers. Woody faced the minimum number of batters in his three innings pitched, giving up no runs, no hits, just one walk and striking out three.
Woody’s next appearance came in game one of the NLCS in another dominating performance. Manager Craig Counsell called on Woodruff early in the game after the Dodgers took a 1-0 lead. And just as he did against the Rockies, Woodruff had another amazing performance. He went two innings giving up no runs, no hits, no walks and recording four strike outs.
Oh I almost forgot to mention, he hit a game tying home run off of Clayton Kershaw too!
Who’s spot would he take in the rotation?
Counsell has kept his pitching decisions very close to the chest, but we do know two things are certain, and that is that Wade Miley and Jhoulys Chacin are cemented in this rotation. They have easily been the Milwaukee Brewers most consistent pitchers this season.
However after Miley and Chacin, things become a little uncertain. The only other pitchers on the NLCS roster who have started for the Brewers this year are Junior Guerra, Freddy Peralta and Gio Gonzalez.
We know at this point that Guerra and Peralta will be used strictly out of the bullpen, so that begs the question, should Milwaukee start Woodruff over Gonzalez in game four?
To me the answer is yes. As a left-handed pitcher, Gio does present a difficult match up for the Dodgers who have struggled mightily against lefties all year, but right now Woodruff has the hot hand. And in October, teams have to go with who is playing best.
Game 4 of the series could turn into another ‘bullpen game’ that is constructed similarly to game one of the NLDS against Colorado. Woodruff should get the much deserved start again, and may get a longer leash than just three innings, depending on how he is pitching.
The Brewers and Counsell have a lot of options to choose from, but right now Woodruff is playing his best baseball. Falling behind the Los Angeles Dodgers early is a recipe for a loss, so having a starting pitcher that can get through the first three or four innings cleanly is invaluable.