Milwaukee Brewers: In A Must-Win Playoff Game, who starts?

MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 08: Jhoulys Chacin #45 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Miller Park on August 8, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - AUGUST 08: Jhoulys Chacin #45 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Miller Park on August 8, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Just over a week ago the calendar flipped over to August and with that, the Milwaukee Brewers games seemed to have gained more meaning. Every game matters and could be the difference between making the playoffs or missing out on them by a single game.

Where the Brewers sit in the crowded National League, it is a definite possibility that they will have a win-or-go-home scenario. Whether that takes place at the end of the regular season, a wild card game, or if they make it deeper into the playoffs, Craig Counsell will have to decide on which pitcher gets the start.

The Milwaukee Brewers find themselves in a different situation than other contenders, as they do not have a definite number one pitcher. They have a solid rotation to call on, but all have had their issues this year.

There is still a lot of games to be played before this point in the season arrives, but let’s take a look at the starting pitchers and see who should have their number called upon in a crucial win-or-go-home game.

Zach Davies

As of late, there has been a lot of chatter in regard to Davies coming back from the DL after pitching in Colorado Springs on rehab assignments. Currently, Counsell has said he will have at least one more start with the Sky Sox before potentially returning to the Crew.

After a great 2017 season where Davies had a 17-9 record with an ERA of 3.90, he has spent most of 2018 injured or struggling when he has started. At this point in 2018, he has a record of 2-5 with an ERA of 5.23 in only 8 starts. The only two wins he recorded came against the awful Kansas City Royals and the struggling Cincinnati Reds.

Even his starts in Colorado Springs have been a disappointment. In four starts there, he has a record of 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA. At this point it is unlikely to think that if he returns, he will take the form of the 2017 Zach Davies that burst onto the scene, but he will be another potential arm to add depth to the rotation.

Wade Miley

The first few months of the year were injury plagued for Miley. He got hurt at the end of spring training and in just his second start back in early May, he had to leave again with another injury.

However, in the seven starts that he has made, he’s been quite effective. Miley has put up a 2-1 record with a 2.10 ERA and a 1.252 WHIP. In addition to those numbers, he has been even better of late by giving up no earned runs in two of his last four starts, including a 1-0 victory over the Dodgers in L.A.

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A significant aspect to win or go home games is getting off to a good start and Miley can provide that. To this point in the season he has a cumulative ERA of 1.47 in the first through third inning. This could allow the Brewers to get ahead early and rely on the bullpen late.

At this point, the Milwaukee Brewers need Miley to continue to build on the strong performances he’s had so far, to keep themselves in a leading playoff position and to be a potential factor in those important games down the stretch.

Jhoulys Chacin

Chacin has had a great start to the season and has been the Milwaukee Brewers’ most reliable starter up to this point. In 2018, he has compiled a 10-4 record over 24 starts with a 3.89 ERA and a 1.220 WHIP.

He has been the benefactor of the Brewers offense as they put up an average of 4.99 runs per game when Chacin takes the mound. But to his credit, he has capitalized on that offensive production from his team. A strength of Chacin’s game is that he doesn’t give up many home runs. In a win or go home situation, the ability to keep the ball in the park and not giving up runs in big chunks will be crucial.

If there is any concern in Jhoulys’ game, it’s that in the fourth and fifth inning, his ERA skyrockets. His fourth inning ERA this season is 5.40 and in the fifth it’s 4.12. We can most likely attribute this to the batters he’s facing seeing him for a second time and picking up his pitches better. But in a game of this importance, Counsell could rely on Corbin Burnes, Joakim Soria, Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress, and Josh Hader from the fourth or fifth inning on if needed.

Chase Anderson

Chase Anderson’s season thus far has been a roller coaster ride. In 2018, he has a 7-7 record with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. His last start against the Padres was a microcosm of his season so far. He starts with two effortless innings and, from that point on, he struggles to find the strike zone and eventually lets the Padres back into the game.

He has been inconsistent so far this year and in a must-win game, it would be tough to give him the ball and know which Chase Anderson is going to appear on the mound.

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Much like Chacin, he has been getting very good run support from the offense but he hasn’t been able to take advantage of it. The Brewers offense is averaging 4.46 runs per game when Chase takes the mound but he still holds a 7-7 record. And if he wasn’t getting that support, his record would most likely be below .500. When Anderson is on, he is dominant, but at the flip of a switch, it can change. And those mistakes will lead to runs.

Junior Guerra

Junior Guerra up to this point has been a steady starting pitcher for the Brewers to call on. He has a team-low ERA of 3.42 (minimum 20 starts) and leads the team in strikeouts with 111 in his 21 starts.

Guerra also has the lowest amount of earned runs given up amongst pitchers with over 100 innings pitched at just 44. Don’t let his record of 6-7 fool you, Junior has been a solid starter for the Brewers and is putting up great numbers this season, leading the team in a few statistical categories.

The concern for Guerra is similar to the concern for Chacin. Once batters start to see him for the second time around, his ERA jumps up to 6.00 in the third inning and 4.29 in the fourth. Both far higher than his cumulative season average.

But Guerra is a gamer, and he’s got a few very nice wins this year against NL playoff contenders that includes the Braves, Diamondbacks and Cardinals. The Milwaukee Brewers are 12-9 when Guerra starts and putting up good numbers like he has will be an important part to our continued success.

Freddy Peralta

Milwaukee Brewers fans will remember how Freddy Peralta made his electric MLB debut by putting up 13 strikeouts that day against the Colorado Rockies on the road. Peralta became a quick fan favorite after that performance.

Through his ten starts in 2018, he has posted a 5-2 record, with a 3.51 ERA and a WHIP of 1.031. He’s an exciting player to watch, putting up 71 strikeouts in just 53.1 innings pitched, but his weakness is he doesn’t always get off to the best start. Freddy’s first inning ERA stands at 6.30 on the season. That’s not the kind of start the Brewers would want to have in a win or go home game.

Another aspect to look at when considering Freddy is his age. At the very young age of 22, he has done a phenomenal job this year. But how would a player that young and that inexperienced be able to handle a start in a game of that magnitude? The answer is, nobody knows at this point. He could come in and be the Freddy we’ve seen thus far, or he could struggle mightily. A win-or-go-home game isn’t the time to figure that question out.

Who Gets The Start?

Based on all of the information covered above and what we’ve seen out of each pitcher so far, at this point in the season I would choose Jhoulys Chacin to pitch that must win game. Wade Miley would be a close second at the moment.

I would give Chacin the go because of the consistency he’s shown all year for the Crew. He’s been the most dependable starter and when he takes the mound, the Brewers have a 17-8 record. Chacin gets the job done, and in a must-win game, that’s what you need.

Although he has limited starts, I did consider Miley at this point in the season because of his effectiveness when he’s been available. He also has a good demeanor and doesn’t seem like the

type of player where the moment would be too big for him. However, as I stated above, we haven’t seen enough of Miley to give him the start as of today. However, if he keeps pitching the way he has been over the rest of August and September, the Brewers could be persuaded.

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Lastly, Freddy has been spectacular this year for a 22-year-old, but I would like to see him have more big-league experience before being put into that kind of game. There will be a time in the near future when we come to a must-win game and Freddy is going to be the easy choice to get the ball, but that time is not now.