Although the Milwaukee Brewers had their issues in the ninth inning, they were able to pull out the victory against the Rockies in game one of the NLDS. This win can be attributed to manager Craig Counsell’s bullpen game and the performances of his pitching staff.
Yes, Jeremy Jeffress blew a 2-0 lead for the Milwaukee Brewers but after not pitching in the last week, his struggles can be chalked up to rust. It would be a surprise if it happens again. But his performance does not change the fact that this game was a success for this pitching staff.
In recent years there seems to be more and more discussion around utilizing the bullpen for the entire game instead of the traditional starter. Many do not see it replacing the current pitching roles but in certain situations it can work quite well.
If before game one of the NLDS someone had given Craig Counsell a pen and a piece of paper, he couldn’t have scripted the pitching performances through the first eight innings any better.
The Milwaukee Brewers had used a bullpen game one other time this season and that was during game one of their series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Brewers were able to get the win but the offense was a big reason why, as the pitching staff gave up four runs on eight hits that night.
However, during game one of the NLDS, the pitching staff was lights out.
Brewers pitching performances
To the surprise of many Brandon Woodruff started the game, but got the Milwaukee Brewers off to a great start. He pitched three innings giving up just one walk and recorded three strikeouts while facing the minimum number of hitters with the help of catcher Manny Pina.
Corbin Burnes covered the next two innings and his slider was extremely difficult to hit. Burnes gave up just one hit while striking out three batters.
Through eight innings, Colorado had just one hit against the Brewers pitching staff.
Why did this strategy work for Milwaukee?
There are two reasons that stick out as to why this bullpen game worked so well.
First, Counsell sent out all right-handed pitchers to face the Rockies with the one exception of Hader. The reason that this approach was so successful is because Colorado ranked as the worst batting team in the NL during the regular season against right-handed pitchers.
Another factor was that the Colorado batters never got to see the same pitcher twice. Throughout the game, the Rockies batters were never able to get comfortable with who was on the mound or the types of pitches they were seeing because both were different every time. This makes it extremely difficult for batters to find any sort of rhythm at the plate.
All around this was another terrifically managed game by Counsell. As the playoffs progress, another bullpen game for the Brewers could definitely be a possibility.