MLB Playoffs: Ranking the Top Five Pitching Duels from Wildcard Week

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 30: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning of Game One of the National League Wild Card Series against the Cincinnati Reds at Truist Park on September 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 30: Trevor Bauer #27 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning of Game One of the National League Wild Card Series against the Cincinnati Reds at Truist Park on September 30, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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#3 Brandon Woodruff vs. Clayton Kershaw

Both starters faced immense pressure in this one. Brandon Woodruff had to shut down the most potent offense in MLB while full-well knowing he would get little-to-no run support like had been the case for him all season. If he struggled even slightly, his Brewers would have to try again next year.

Clayton Kershaw had the potent offense on his side, and his team was not facing elimination. However, he has skeletons in his closet this time of year that are not there for decorative purposes. Over 33 postseason appearances, the three-time Cy Young winner had compiled a 4.60 ERA and a 9-12 record.

He wasn’t spooked Thursday night against Milwaukee. Kershaw fooled Brewers’ hitters for eight innings, holding them scoreless throughout. He relied on breaking balls to get ahead in counts, and his primary putaway pitch appeared to be a sinking fastball. Only four Brewers reached base against him. 13 times a Brewer walked hopelessly back to the dugout after three strikes.

Though, Milwaukee remained in the game as Woodruff was working on a gem of his own. The big right-hander struck out nine Dodgers through 4.1 innings, effectively keeping any one Dodger from crossing home plate.

With runners on first and second in the fifth, A.J. Pollock rolled one to third baseman Luis Urias. Urias stepped on the third base bag for one out, but a bounced throw to first prevented the double play. Los Angeles still had life in the inning.

Austin Barnes singled up the middle to score one. Next up, Mookie Betts, who was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against Woodruff, ripped a double down the third base line on a 2-0 count to score two more.

Woodruff left the game after 5.2 innings with his team down 3-0. Like the Cardinals and Cubs, the Brewers failed to score in the game.