Fighting Phillies Have Extra Punch Ready For Milwaukee


Milwaukee (24-19) at Philadelphia (24-16)

When: 7:05 p.m. ET

Free MLB Pick: Phillies First-Half ML

Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

Milwaukee’s Brandon Woodruff (5-1, 4.25 ERA) shows good form, allowing one run in each of his last three starts. But this streak is not impressive because it came against three lineups that rank in the bottom half of the league in terms of runs scored per game.

Woodruff’s key weapon is velocity. His fastball and sinker make up 60 percent of his arsenal and average 95-96 mph. He has to hope for his pitches to blow by batters because he struggles to place them in difficult-to-hit locations. His three most frequent sinker and fastball locations are in the most middle parts of the strike zone, where opponents tend to take advantage with high slugging rates. It can be easier to launch a high-velo pitch in the opposite direction. Once a batter makes contact with it, he uses the pitch’s velocity against itself.

His second-favorite pitch is the slider. Opponents slug .857 against his slider with zero strikes, .625 against it with one strike, but only .121 against it with two strikes. Woodruff becomes vastly more effective with his slider when he feels free to throw it out of the zone. This pitch therefore has a higher ball rate with two strikes, but he generates more whiffs and outs with it. His slider isn’t threatening with its little movement and the Phillies’ strong plate discipline, as evidenced by its low chase rate, will be useful to avoiding two-strike counts.

Against four lineups that rank top-10 in runs per game, Woodruff yielded an FIP (like ERA, but factors out fielding) over 4.00 three times and conceded at least four runs twice. The Phillies are hitting well, scoring six or seven runs in each of their past three games. Watch out especially for batters who can hit left-handed because Woodruff is yielding a .324 BA against them. Cesar Hernandez is batting .381 and Odubel Herrera is hitting .320 in their past seven days. Rhys Hoskins is a righty, but he’s slugging .607 against right-handed pitchers and .750 at home.

Philadelphia’s Jerad Eickhoff (2-1, 1.50 ERA) shows strong form, yielding an FIP under 3.30 in each of his four starts so far, including at Colorado. His improvement over last season is a big reason why Philly has won in each of his last three starts, yielding +3.45 units.

Eickhoff has three solid pitches, a serviceable fastball that yields a .250 opposing BA and a curveball and change-up that he can lean on when runners enter scoring position. Opponents hit .135 against the former, .138 against the latter.

His curveball has always been a trademark pitch for him and he finally learned to throw it more often. He commands it well for a high rate of strikes and gives it tricky negative vertical movement. He is comfortable utilizing it in all parts of the count and can elevate it, although he places it with 30 percent frequency in the two lowest-right spots in the zone. It plays well off his fastball, which he loves to elevate, by changing the batter’s eye level. Its 15 mph velocity differential keeps hitters off-balance.

When runners enter scoring position, Eickhoff throws his curveball five percent more often against left-handed hitters, 10 percent more frequently against righties. Milwaukee will struggle to hit runners home because it struggles against the curveball. In May, the Brewers are 2-for-23 (.087) against this pitch from right-handed pitchers, which ranks second-to-last. On the season, they rank dead-last in the category. The Brewers are anyhow struggling to score, having scored six runs in their past three games combined.

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