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On Ron Roenicke And Postseason Legacies

There's not going to be a Frosty Mug today. It will return tomorrow to help get ready for Game 6, but today I could really use a day away from baseball to recharge and refocus. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. Before I go, though, here's the thought that keeps running through my head.

Like most of you, I'm strongly hoping the Brewers can find a way to win Game 6 tomorrow and extend this series to put Yovani Gallardo back on the mound Monday. But, also like many of you, I'm reluctant to put too much faith in Shaun Marcum's ability to do it.

We've talked a lot about Marcum over the last couple of weeks. Earlier this week Jordan had a look at what's changed over the last couple of months as he's gone from one of this team's most effective pitchers to a guy who isn't fooling anyone. For the Brewers to have a chance to win tomorrow, they're going to need Marcum to reverse the trend.

The decision to trot Marcum out there has been widely unpopular. The media has spent roughly half the week asking Ron Roenicke if he's considering changing his mind. If Marcum comes out and has a solid outing tomorrow, then Roenicke will get to say "I told you so." But if he doesn't, we're going to spend an awful lot of time this winter discussing the demise of the 2011 Brewers and the blood on the manager's hands.

Even before taking the mound tomorrow, Shaun Marcum is having a historically bad postseason. He's the only pitcher in franchise history to post an ERA over 10 in more than five playoff innings. If he has a solid outing, then he'll get a good performance to cover for some of his struggles this October like Randy Wolf did. But if he struggles again tomorrow, he's going to cement a place alongside the likes of Jeff Suppan on the list of memorably terrible postseason performances. That's a pretty heavy burden to bear.

Similarly, if the Brewers lose the series (and especially if they lose it tomorrow), a lot of the blame is going to be placed on Ron Roenicke. He's made some decisions this October that have worked, like inserting Jerry Hairston Jr at third base and letting Randy Wolf start again, but he also started Mark Kotsay in back-to-back games, inserted Casey McGehee as a pinch hitter with the game on the line in Game 3 and let a clearly struggling starting pitcher make two NLCS starts.

There's a strong possibility that tomorrow is going to be a defining moment in the careers of these two men, and not in a good way. If Marcum doesn't pitch well and the Brewers lose, this game is going to end up near the top of the list of biggest failures in Brewer franchise history.

For their sakes and for all of ours, I hope that's not what happens.