While many of you may have already switched from baseball to football season, some are still caught up in the hype of MLB’s postseason. For those who fall into the latter category, it is likely obvious to you that the Milwaukee Brewers style of baseball is a bit different than the norm. It has nothing to do with home runs or stolen bases but how they use their pitchers, which could end up encouraging teams to follow suit.
If other clubs do play follow the leader, baseball is headed for a bad fall. Not just in the sense of October success, but when your starting pitcher throws to one batter and then is pulled (Wade Miley in game five of the NLCS), that is a problem, regardless of who pitches after him (Brandon Woodruff threw 5.1 IP), because MLB isn’t a video game. It is real life.
While the Brewers used their questionable approach to pitcher usage, Clayton Kershaw, who is the Dodgers ace, tossed his second Magnum Start of the postseason. Kershaw has now thrown a MS 66.7% of the time and would have a 50/50 split between Monthly Minima Percentage (MMP) and Median Percentage Monthly (MPM) of MO-Dot in the 2018 playoffs, meaning he was able to complete eight innings while allowing two earned runs or less. And what happened due to Kershaw’s brilliance on the hill? The Dodgers went back to Milwaukee up three games to two.
Delving even deeper into this topic, there is no way around the fact that the starters still have made a massive difference on both sides when allowed. The Brewers had one solid start this series, which was made by Jhoulys Chacin. He tossed 5.1 innings of scoreless baseball, and while Walker Buehler went deeper into the game (seven innings), Buehler allowed four earned runs and took the 4-0 loss. Outside of Chacin, the only Milwaukee starter to throw 5 IP+ was Wade Miley in game two (5.2 IP), however, he was rendered a no-decision thanks to a late-game home run by Justin Turner. Maybe if Miley could have been allowed to throw an extra inning or two, Brewers skipper Craig Counsell would have managed the bullpen differently. And Milwaukee might have won the game.
However “might” is irrelevant at this point, but an even deeper issue lies in the thirteen inning game four loss. Milwaukee ran seven pitchers to the mound, and three of the seven tossed two or more innings (two threw in excess of three). In these type of games, managing a bullpen is crucial to winning as double-switches take place, not to mention the opposition sends pinch hitters to the plate themselves. If a starter covers six plus, your team has a much higher chance of winning due to the fact that he allows a manager to have a fairly stocked bullpen as the game moves into extra innings. And the more weapons you can fire late, the better the chances are that your team may celebrate.
Before we wrap up, the Brewers are a club that is winning with a lot of offense and an outstanding bullpen which is being forced to pitch every night. My main concern would be if Counsell continues to run the same pitchers to the hill, they will eventually burn out. That happened to the Indians in 2016, when the Tribe went up 3-1 on the Cubs prior to losing the final three games of the World Series.
All in all, the Brewers are attempting to advance baseball, but is it for the better?. There are only so many teams that can win with this style of play, and those who do rarely end up raising World Series banners. The key to winning in baseball will always be starting pitching, and attempting to alter this doesn’t help anyone. At least anyone who wants to win a championship.
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