Unless the Brewers meet the Nationals in the playoffs for a second successive October, chances are Milwaukee right-hander Brandon Woodruff won’t see Washington counterparts Max Scherzer and Steven Strasburg pitch in person this season.
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic shifted the parameters of the 2020 schedule and season, however, Woodruff studied YouTube highlights of the Washington co-aces during spring training in a bid to revamp his changeup.
The research has worked to date for Woodruff, who is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA in two starts this season entering his scheduled Tuesday start against the visiting Chicago White Sox.
“I think a common theme with them, especially Scherzer, he mentioned he throws his changeup while thinking about throwing his thumb first,” Woodruff said. “I’ve kind of been working on that in spring and then summer camp.”
Woodruff shined behind his changeup in his most recent outing, generating eight of his 20 swings-and-misses with the pitch on Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
Woodruff limited the Pirates to one hit and one walk in 6 1/3 shutout innings while striking out 10 and retiring a career-best 17 in a row at one point.
While the Brewers’ bullpen followed suit in a combined one-hitter, Woodruff set a dominant tone, to be sure.
“I had a perfect view for it,” Milwaukee center fielder Ben Gamel said. “You know, he was absolutely just mowing people down (Wednesday). It was pretty uncompetitive, I felt like.”
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell had his own spin on Woodruff’s start.
“Overpowering, I think, is probably the word that best describes it,” Counsell said.
On Tuesday, Woodruff will meet a jelling Chicago lineup that has helped the team produce a season-high five straight victories. Powered by home runs from Jose Abreu and Yoan Moncada, the White Sox rallied for a 6-4 victory in Monday’s series opener.
Woodruff has not faced the White Sox in his career and enters with a 1-2 record and 3.00 ERA in five interleague appearances, including four starts.
White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito (0-1, 6.52 ERA) has not faced the Brewers in his career while pitching to limited success in interleague play.
In 10 interleague starts entering Tuesday, Giolito is 1-6 with a 6.96 ERA while scattering 33 walks and 12 home runs allowed in 54 1/3 innings.
After recording just 11 outs while allowing seven runs in an Opening Day loss to visiting Minnesota, Giolito rebounded Wednesday at Cleveland, scattering four hits, two walks and six strikeouts in six shutout innings. Giolito took a no-decision in an eventual 4-0 win that allowed the White Sox to salvage a game in their three-game set against the Indians — and sparked them on their current tear.
“It was a must-win game for us as a team,” Giolito said. “The way I saw it, our first round of starting pitching did not go well, so it was time for us to make the adjustments we needed and go out there and have a good one. I was happy to do that.”
The White Sox out-hit Milwaukee 12-10 on Monday and have collected 47 hits in the past three games.
–Field Level Media