The postseason brings more attention to teams that may not have gotten a lot of it during the regular season, and when there’s long layoffs between series — like waiting nearly a week between the NLDS and NLCS — there’s a lot of time to talk.
For the Brewers, that conversation has revolved around this idea that they’re somehow revolutionizing pitching (or Killing The Starting Pitcher, depending on your perspective), and the way they’ve been waiting until the last minute to publicly announce their starting pitching decisions.
This is something that, apparently, drew the ire of the Los Angeles Dodgers before the the Brewers announced their plans for a starting pitcher, and according to Ken Rosenthal, momentarily had Major League Baseball worried about the possibility of gamesmanship getting out of hand before a game was even played.
From Rosenthal’s latest in The Athletic:
Nothing would prevent the Dodgers, for example, from refusing to name a starter for a particular game, then warming up two options and picking one. A Dodgers official mentioned the possibility of just such a move Thursday, but the team would only seriously consider it if L.A. perceived the Brewers to be seeking a competitive advantage, which would not be the case in Games 1 and 2.
Rosenthal points out that the Brewers aren’t breaking any rules — nobody is required to say who’s starting before lineup cards are turned in before the game — but the league is considering actually changing the rules this offseason because of what the Brewers have been doing.
Opposing teams want to know who’s starting so they can be more efficient in their preparation, but from the league’s perspective, the tradition of the press conferences the day before the series starting is a promotional opportunity, and knowing who’s starting the games helps the league (and the networks paying the league hundreds of millions of dollars) sell those games to a wider audience beyond just the interested fanbases.
It’s likely not so much the Brewers doing it that ruffles the league’s feathers — knowing whether it’s Gio Gonzalez or Wade Miley or Jhoulys Chacin starting Game 1 for the league’s smallest market isn’t going to move the needle much either way — but the idea that the strategy could take off if they don’t get a handle on it right away. It’s not an issue if the Brewers do it, but it’s a bigger issue if the Los Angeles Dodgers are suddenly refusing to say when Clayton Kershaw is pitching as the league tries to build its schedule.
Whether the Brewers are doing this to try to get a competitive advantage or if they’re just taking as much time to analyze their choices before making a decision, we can probably expect this to continue as long as they’re still in the tournament.