The Brewers pitching staff has been a pleasant surprise in 2020. Opposing batters, who often end their at bats with a strikeout, likely disagree.
In the modern era of baseball their are two statistical categories that seem to be on the rise each and every year: home runs and strike outs. The 2020 Milwaukee Brewers pitching staff is finding success with the latter.
Entering play on Friday 9/18/20, Brewers pitchers have struck out 505 batters. That is good enough for second most in the major leagues! They trail only the division rival Cincinnati Reds who have 514. The third best team in strikeouts is the Cleveland Indians, who currently sit at 504. There is then a drastic drop off from there to the 4th place Padres who have 468 team strikeouts.
If you take a look at the Brewers starting rotation from an individual standpoint, Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are among the Brewers leaders at 74 and 72 strikeouts each. Josh Lindblom has the third most amount of strikeouts for the Brewers at 48.
Moving on to the Brewers bullpen from an individual standpoint, Devin Williams and Freddy Peralta are tied for the lead at 43 strikeouts. Brent Suter comes in third with 33 and Josh Hader fourth with 23.
Of course all of these pitchers have thrown different amounts of innings this year, so lets take a look at the Brewers top 3 K/9 ratios. Williams has the best ratio at 18.43, Peralta second at 15.08, and Hader third at 14.11. Of Brewers starting pitchers, Burnes leads the pack with 13.32.
With high strikeouts totals comes higher whiff percentages by pitchers. According to Statcast, the league average for a pitcher’s whiff percentage is 24.5. Of Brewers pitchers who have thrown over 200 pitches this season, nine pitchers are above league average. Currently the outlier in this category is Williams, a top contender for NL Reliever of the Year, at 53.2%.
After Williams it mellows down quite a bit. In ascending to descending order it goes: Peralta (41.2%), Hader (37.7%), Burnes (34.9%), Lindblom (32.5%), Drew Rasmussen (31.9%), Suter (31.3%), Woodruff (28.6%), and Alex Claudio (26.3%).
While the strikeout totals are incredible, as mentioned above it seems like from an offensive perspective that home runs are on the rise in baseball as well. Fortunately, this Brewers pitching staff has done a great job at limiting the home run ball. To date, they have allowed 55 home runs against them, which is tied for the 3rd least amount in the major leagues.
The Brewers have assembled a relatively young pitching staff in which most players are still under club control for many more years to come. Names like Woodruff, Burnes, Williams, and Rasmussen are all home grown talents and will certainly play big roles in Brewers pitching for the foreseeable future.
The results we are seeing this year from the home grown talent is much more impressive than what we saw in 2019. For a small market team, home grown talent is especially important. If this core is able to stick together, and there is a normal 162-game season in 2021, they again could be among the league’s best in team strikeouts.
For now, there is still a shortened season that needs finishing. Any chance the Brewers have at ending it with a playoff berth depends on the pitching staff continuing to blow away batters at the plate.