Wednesday's slate of baseball games was littered with standout pitching performances. If you ask Brewers manager Craig Counsell, Brandon Woodruff had the most impressive one.
In an effort his skipper referred to as "overpowering," Woodruff made the Pirates look silly for 6 1/3 innings in the Steel City, limiting them to just one hit and one walk while recording 10 strikeouts. The lone hit came off the bat of Phillip Evans, who dribbled one down the third-base line for an infield single in the bottom of the first inning. It turned out to be the Bucs’ only base knock of the game, as David Phelps, Devin Williams and Josh Hader combined with Woodruff on the shutout.
Woodruff induced 20 swinging strikes from the Pirates on the night. The changeup is his pitch that got the most whiffs (eight), which is notable since it’s been a weaker offering for him in the past and held him back against left-handed batters. Woodruff seems to be making a concerted effort in his first two starts to throw the changeup more.
Woodruff was already considered a top-30 starting pitcher in fantasy back in the spring, and if anything his position has only been enhanced with the shortened season. A reason to ding him a bit previously was his potential workload since he threw only 121 2/3 frames last season. In a 60-game schedule, that shouldn’t be an issue.
“Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better).”
A classic show tune. Also, apparently, what Indians pitchers say to each other as they cross paths (in a socially distant way, of course) in the clubhouse.
It was Zach Plesac’s turn Wednesday. The 25-year-old befuddled the White Sox’ bats for eight innings, yielding just three hits and no walks while notching a career-high 11 strikeouts. Plesac induced 19 swinging strikes among his 98 pitches, with 13 of them coming on his slider.
The Indians have used six different starters in their first six games (Adam Plutko was needed due to a doubleheader Tuesday). All six of them have gone at least six innings and given up no more than two runs. In a total of 39 innings, those starters have recorded 54 strikeouts while walking just three.
That’s some pitching, folks.
Plesac – who is the nephew of longtime big leaguer Dan Plesac – was good but not great over 21 starts during his rookie season. He posted a nice 3.81 ERA and 1.23 WHIP but struck out just 88 across 115 2/3 innings. His FIP was 4.94.
Plesac’s minor league numbers were much more intriguing, though, particularly last year when he held a 1.70 ERA and 65/9 K/BB ratio over 63 2/3 frames between Double- and Triple-A. Worth noting is that Plesac developed a new curveball over the winter while working out with Mike Clevinger, although it was his least-used pitch Wednesday.
It’s hard to know how much we can read into Plesac’s dominant outing. The White Sox do have a lot of swing-and-miss in their lineup, and Plesac’s stuff certainly doesn’t jump out from the eye test. He’s also slated for a tough matchup in Cincinnati the next time out. It’s difficult to overlook that line, though. Plesac is at least worth a speculative add.
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Moose, Senzel Return to Spark Reds
Entering Wednesday, Mike Moustakas and Nick Senzel had been unavailable the last few days after self-reporting symptoms related to COVID-19. After successfully appealing to return, the two Reds players quickly made an impact.
First it was Moustakas who clubbed a two-run home run in the fourth inning. Then it was Senzel’s turn, as the young center fielder swatted a solo shot of his own in the fifth. All told, the duo reached base five times, driving in four runs and scoring three more.
Moustakas is off to a roaring start with his new club, having reached base seven times in his first 12 plate appearances, adding a pair of dingers along the way. Senzel is hoping the big night is a turning point for him, as he entered this one hitless on the season.
It was a 10-hit, 12-run attack that the Reds put together to down the Cubs 12-7. In addition to the longballs by Moustakas and Senzel, they also got a grand slam from Nick Castellanos.
Not to be overshadowed is Sonny Gray. The veteran right-hander was brilliant for the second straight start, getting charged with two unearned runs while allowing just one hit and one walk to go along with 11 strikeouts. In his first two outings this season, Gray has given up just one earned run while boasting a 20/3 K/BB ratio.
Gray’s dominance dates back much farther than that, though. Over his last 35 starts, Gray has not allowed more than six hits in any outing, which is an MLB record. Since July of last season, Gray has posted a microscopic 1.79 ERA, fanning 134 batters across 15 2/3 innings along the way.
The Reds’ win Wednesday allowed them to snap a four-game losing streak.
American League Quick Hits: Making his major league debut, Nate Pearson struck out five batters across five scoreless frames, taking a no-decision against the Nationals … Cristian Javier also dazzled in his first major league start, whiffing eight Dodgers batters while yielding just one run over 5 2/3 innings … DJ LeMahieu went 4-for-5 with a homer and two RBI in a 9-3 victory for the Yankees over the Orioles on Wednesday … Lance Lynn held the Diamondbacks off the scoreboard for six innings Wednesday, allowing just one hit while notching eight strikeouts … Jose Leclerc did not enter Wednesday's game versus the Diamondbacks in a save situation after feeling tightness in his right shoulder while warming up. Nick Goody notched a save in his place … Lucas Giolito blanked the Indians for six innings in a no-decision Wednesday, recording six punchouts along the way … Aaron Judge went 2-for-3 with a homer, two RBI and three runs scored in a blowout win over the Orioles on Wednesday … Bo Bichette (hamstring) remained out of the Blue Jays' lineup Wednesday … Rich Hill allowed no runs over five innings on Wednesday in a victory over the Cardinals … Masahiro Tanaka (concussion) will make his season debut on Saturday against the Red Sox …
National League Quick Hits: Max Scherzer fanned 10 batters across 7 1/3 scoreless innings Wednesday in a victory over the Blue Jays … Freddie Freeman went 4-for-5 with a homer, a double and three RBI as the Braves downed the Rays on Wednesday … Stephen Strasburg (hand) will miss his second scheduled turn in the Nationals' starting rotation … Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Wednesday that the team is hoping to have Juan Soto (COVID-19) back on Saturday … Jon Heyman of MLB Network has reported that Sandy Alcantara is among the Marlins players with COVID-19 … Pete Alonso went 4-for-4 and was hit by a pitch Wednesday against the Red Sox … German Marquez fanned eight batters while tossing six frames of one-run ball Wednesday in the Rockies' win over the Athletics … Nick Markakis announced Wednesday that he is rejoining the Braves. Markakis had previously opted out for the 2020 season … Giants manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday that the expectation is Brandon Belt (heel) and Evan Longoria (oblique) will be activated Thursday … Eric Hosmer was scratched from the Padres' lineup Wednesday due to more stomach issues … Howie Kendrick was scratched from the Nationals' starting lineup Wednesday due to upper back stiffness … Jose Quintana (thumb) threw a successful 28-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday … The Braves activated Travis d’Arnaud (COVID-19) and Tyler Flowers (COVID-19) from the injured list … Major League Baseball has suspended Joe Kelly eight games for his actions during Tuesday's game against the Astros …