I’ve said it before: losses on Saturday make the mood of Sunday Sundries darker. Sorry. Still, the Brewers won two of the three games they played this week. They’ll go to LA tied at one game apiece with the Dodgers in the NLCS, after having swept the Colorado Rockies in three straight in the NLDS.
Next week could be the last Sundries for the season, or I could get a couple more chances at creating a masterpiece. Of course the masterpiece would be a World Series win. But if you think the Dodgers are tough, wait until you get a load of the Astros. Or Red Sox, but my money is on the ‘Stros.
TOP PITCHING STORY: Wade Miley has been rather awesome lately, and started two of the three games, going 10.2 innings (which is a remarkable number in this age of Brewer starters) and allowing no runs on five hits with just one walk and five strikeouts. He won one, and if the bullpen hadn’t faltered yesterday would have won two. Can’t he just start every game?
Honorable Mention: The Brewers are a playoff team, so I won’t use dishonorable...but Jeremy Jeffress appeared in all three games, working 1.2 innings and somehow allowing only two runs on six hits and two walks, including a homer. He’s been so good all season, but at this point he is no longer the primary closer and I’m sure all of you are as nervous as I am when he comes in to pitch.
TOP HITTING STORY: Guess what? I’m STILL talking about pitchers. On the week, the Crew got six plate appearances from their pitchers and struck out three times. But they had three hits in the other at bats, with a double and a homer. They scored twice and drove in a run; Miley had two hits Saturday and Brandon Woodruff had that dramatic homerun off of Clayton Kershaw on Friday. Hoodathunk?
Honorable Mention: Christian Yelich is doing something he hasn’t done in a while...he appears to be slumping. In fourteen plate appearances he had just one hit (a single) and three walks (one intentional) for the week. He struck out three times and made almost no solid contact. That’s a slash of .090/.090/.286, for an OPS of .376. Winning the NLCS would be more of a possibility with a second-half Yeli appearance.
IMHO: While the national media gnashes their teeth about the unconventional approach the Brewers are taking this season and says they have no chance without any ace starters, the Crew quietly goes about their business of working with what they have to get 27 outs and score (at least) one run more than their opponents. As Craig Counsell says, sure he’d like to have a Randy Johnson to run out there (or the ‘Stros’ rotation, I’d guess. But he can’t say that, it’s probably tampering) rather than how they are doing it. And if they don’t win it all, those same pundits will say “told ya so”, but this is who they are. They would never have gotten as far as they have if they had remained conventional. Remember back in 2011, when a totally gassed Shaun Marcum went in game six against the Cards? Anybody else would have been better, but he was the starter that was up, so out he went.
The run-getters’ side of things is just as unconventional, with their mix-and-match infield and the shifting defense. It has carried this team to 1-1 in the National League Championship Series with a roster that really lacks the same star power of the other three remaining teams. It isn’t that it’s a bunch of over achievers; the Milwaukee offensive players are good - but only Christian Yelich has drastically outperformed expectations this season.
If you want to know how this approach works (or IF it works), look at the Rays. David Stearns and his organization have assembled a fascinating group of forty baseball players, and Craig Counsell has refined his approach as the season has progressed to give them the maximum chance to succeed. If it works all the way you’ll see lots of imitation in the coming seasons.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK: Keeping with our theme of good and innovative team construction, Kyle reminded us of the rather unique path of Craig Counsell from a kid growing up with (and within) the Brewers to his spot as their manager today. moderatelytiredguy87 spoke for all of us:
Man, I hope he stays manager for 20 more years, we never again have a losing season
And he gets into the hall. Because I know which hat will be on that plaque.
Yup. Until the team gets off to a slow start in a year or two, or loses three straight in LA this week. In case you hadn’t noticed, baseball fans can be a fickle bunch.
On to LA, where they need to win at least one so that I can go to more postseason baseball games. At least with the team in the City of Angels, I can get back to recapping games, except for Tuesday. Randomly, I won tickets to go see Emmylou Harris that night, and I guess I’ll just do that. I wonder if I can keep my phone turned off the whole time...gotta live a well rounded life, though.
And just ‘cause:
If nothing else, I know I’ll get to write at least one more of these. Enjoy your day off from Brewer baseball!
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference