It goes without saying that the next three games will be some of the most important the Brewers have played this year, and Craig Counsell isn’t taking any chances. He’s already announced that he’s bumping Chase Anderson, who was scheduled to start the series opener Monday night, from the rotation and will instead go with Johnny Wholestaff.
Anderson has had a weird season, and it’s hard to fault Counsell for not wanting to chance things with the unpredictable nature of Anderson’s starts this year. Despite giving up a league-leading 30 home runs, Anderson still carries an ERA below 4 at 3.93 because the vast majority of those home runs — 22 of those 30 — are solo home runs, and he’s given up little damage outside of those solo shots.
Anderson has made 2 starts against the Cardinals this year, allowing 5 runs in 9 innings -- again, largely on solo home runs. They’ve gone deep 4 times against Anderson (3 of those coming in his first appearance against them on April 3rd), but the 6 other combined hits Anderson yielded to them in those two starts produced just 1 run.
Who starts the game is still TBD, but as the tweet notes, it won’t be Josh Hader. Counsell has repeatedly said this season the reason he doesn’t start Hader -- even in these spot start situations -- is because then he can choose which batters Hader faces, instead of the opposing manager deciding that with the lineup he sends out.
When we do see Hader on Monday night -- if we do at all -- will depend on the game situation and whether Counsell is willing to go all-in on the first game of the series to make sure they leave town with at least a one-game lead for the top wildcard spot. It’s also possible we still see Anderson for multiple innings at some point in the game, maybe just with an Opener taking the ball first.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference