Jhoulys Chacin has been Milwaukee’s most dependable starter this season and is tentatively scheduled to toe the rubber to begin game three of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers, which begins tomorrow. But manager Craig Counsell - who told reporters that “It’s no secret that we’re going to use our pitching a little differently than the traditionalists would like” - may not wait that long to deploy his nominal ace:
Counsell: I will tell you Jhoulys is available in Game 1."— Tom (@Haudricourt) October 11, 2018
Craig Counsell also says "Jhoulys (Chacin) is available in Game 1. He's available to pitch tomorrow, for sure." Chacin has been tentatively scheduled as the Brewers' Game 3 starter in LA.— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) October 11, 2018
Chacin was the only pitcher who took his regular turn for the Brewers all year long, making 35 starts and logging 192.2 innings during his first season of his two-year contract. Along the way he produced a 3.50 ERA with marks of 7.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. He’s been at his best with the lights shining brightest, delivering 5.2 innings of one-run baseball against the Cubs in a decisive game 163 for the NL Central title followed by five shutout innings against the Rockies on short rest in game two of the NLDS.
Craig Counsell hasn’t been afraid to use any of his pitchers in just about any situation during the regular season and playoffs, so why wouldn’t be be willing to use his best starter out of the bullpen in game one of the NLCS? Gio Gonazlez and his left pitching arm should help to neutralize an LA offense that slugs against southpaws, but given how the Brewers operate, there’s no way guarantee that he’ll be asked to work deep into the game.
Asked about the possibility that this is an "opener" situation and he only works a few innings, Gio Gonzalez said he told Craig Counsell, "Any style of pitching, I'm in."— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) October 11, 2018
If Chacin does wind up pitching in game one, it stands to reason that the Brewers would then deploy their bullpen from the start in game three. The Brewers carried seven pitchers with starting experience in the NLDS against the Rockies and started Brandon Woodruff as the “opener” in game two piggybacked by Corbin Burnes, so there is already precedent for this kind of maneuver.
Regardless of what happens and whether Chacin toes the slab in game one out of the bullpen or not until game three, this manager and front office have certainly earned some leeway when it comes to outside criticism of their pitching decisions.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference