Under manager Dave Roberts, the Los Angeles Dodgers have placed an emphasis on stringing together quality at-bats that wear on an opponents pitcher. Within that, the Dodgers have aimed to tax the starter and force him to an early exit.
However, deploying such a strategy in the National League Championship Series may play into the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers. Rather than rely on their starters, Brewers manager Craig Counsell aggressively uses his vaunted bullpen.
Milwaukee has aligned their NLCS rotation with Gio Gonzalez, Wade Miley and Jhoulys Chacin. Though, Counsell said Chacin is also available to pitch in relief in Game 1.
While the Brewers’ strength may be in their bullpen, Max Muncy believes the Dodgers sticking with their approach could pay off considering the immense pressure it would place on Milwaukee relievers, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“It’s a seven-game set,” Muncy said. “That’s more games you’re putting more stress on the bullpen. Yeah, the bullpen is great. But if we’re getting to them early it means we’re putting runs on the starter or we’re putting them in a stressful situation. So now we’re talking about putting their bullpen guys in back-to-back games, three games in a row. I don’t care how good you are, that’s tough. They each have a unique repertoire they’re coming at you with. Maybe the key is getting to face them and you wear them down and maybe they’re burned for a game.”
In the NL Division Series, no Atlanta Braves starter pitched more than 4.2 innings. Only Anibal Sanchez (Game 2) and Sean Newcomb (Game 4) managed to reach the fourth inning.
The same could be seen with Milwaukee, though largely by design. Gonzalez didn’t start in their NLDS matchup with the Colorado Rockies, while Miley went 4.2 innings in his start and Chacin tossed five frames.
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