The Milwaukee Brewers have been one of the National League’s best offensive teams for the last couple years now. This year, they are finding offense from even the most unlikely of sources.
Finding themselves in a pinch hit situation in the bottom of the 4th inning of Monday night’s game against the Cardinals, the Milwaukee Brewers had multiple solid options on their bench: Ryan Braun, Yasmani Grandal, Jesus Aguilar, Hernan Perez. So naturally they turned to the fearsome bat of…..Brandon Woodruff?
Just like everyone probably expected, Woodruff delivered with an opposite field double right inside the left field line. That would keep Woodruff’s batting average at a perfect 1.000 – four hits in four at bats with a walk for good measure.
Of course this isn’t the first time Brewers fans have gotten a glimpse at Woodruff’s “offensive prowess”. As most will probably remember, Woodruff had a very key hit in last year’s NLCS against the Dodgers. In the bottom of the third inning of Game 1, Woodruff smacked a home run, off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw no less, to tie the game at 1-1. The Brewers would go on to win that game 6-5.
Pitchers Who Rake
Believe it or not, Woodruff’s batting numbers actually look somewhat respectable….for a pitcher. With his hot start this year, the left-handed hitter now has a .364 career batting average with a home run, five runs scored and three walks, though all of this comes on only 26 plate appearances over three years.
What’s actually somewhat impressive is his strikeout rate. In those 26 plate appearances, Woodruff has only struck out three times. Considering so many pitchers are pretty much expected to strike out when they come to the plate, it has to be nice that the Brewers don’t have to just assume an out when Woodruff hits.
Pinch Hit Opportunities in the Future?
Now Brandon Woodruff won’t exactly be wrestling the Designated Hitter spot away from sluggers like Aguilar and Eric Thames when the Milwaukee Brewers travel to American League parks. But this does give Craig Counsell an interesting new pinch hitting option.
In Monday night’s game, Freddy Peralta was pulled for a reliever in the top of the fourth inning. His spot in the batting order came up right away in the bottom of that same inning. The fourth inning is awfully early to already start burning valuable bats off the bench as pinch hitters. But by using Woodruff, Counsell was able to save them for later in the game if they became necessary.
Perhaps Woodruff has been giving tips to some of the other starters as well. Young Corbin Burnes is 2-for-5 so far this year and Jhoulys Chacin is 3-for-5 with an Opening Day home run to his credit as well. Whatever the case may be, it certainly doesn’t hurt to have pitchers who aren’t just automatic outs, let alone one you can actually consider using as a pinch hitter such as Woodruff.
Brandon Woodruff will get his next chance to show off his offensive skills tonight in the second game of the series against the Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40pm.