Despite finally being able to play at Miller Park for the first time in 2020, the Brewers home opener didn’t go as well as hoped.
Things got off to a rocky start when the first pitch from Brett Anderson was hit off his foot for an infield single and the Brewers training staff had to come out and check on him. He was fine, but two runs came across to score in the first inning.
While Yelich finally had his first multi-hit game of the season, the real story of the game was Craig Counsell’s management of the bullpen.
Pitchers Staying In A Little Too Long
Anderson was able to settle down after a first inning rough patch and threw two scoreless innings afterwards. With a limited pitch count, he was done after just those three innings and from there, Corbin Burnes was on.
Burnes was electric, showcasing his top notch stuff and getting some big swings and misses. Heading into the 7th inning, the Brewers had a 4-2 lead over the White Sox.
With one out, Burnes allowed a four pitch walk to Luis Robert, then Chris Hook came out for a mound visit, followed by a strikeout of Yoan Moncada. With David Phelps ready in the bullpen, Craig Counsell stuck with Burnes. He fell behind 3-0 to Jose Abreu, and then Abreu took a high fastball deep to dead center to tie the game at four runs apiece.
And then Counsell took out Burnes to bring in Phelps.
Phelps got the final out of the 7th without trouble, and then had some trouble in the 8th, giving up a couple of base hits. There were runners on the corners with two outs in the 8th inning of a tie game. Seems like a perfect situation to bring in relief ace Josh Hader, right?
Instead, Counsell sticks with Phelps and he walks Nick Madrigal on four pitches, giving up a wild pitch in the process to give the White Sox a 5-4 lead. And then Counsell took out Phelps to bring in Corey Knebel.
Where’s Josh Hader?
The question many Brewers fans are asking is: Where is Josh Hader? The Brewers All-Star reliever has only made one appearance so far in 2020, despite him being the key to this bullpen’s success.
The Brewers blew a late lead against the Pirates last time they played, and despite having a lead getting into the final few innings, Hader was not brought in.
Keep in mind, Hader has not opted out, he is not hurt. Counsell had Hader warming up in the 8th inning but decided not to bring him in, until it was too late and the White Sox took the lead. Then bringing in Hader wasn’t necessary.
Look, Counsell knows how to manage a bullpen better than any of us sitting on our couches, but not bringing in Hader with two outs and runners on the corners in the 8th in a tie game is pretty puzzling.
Hindsight is 20/20, and that might just be what this situation is. The Brewers pitching staff has been on ice the past few days since they weren’t able to play the weekend series against the Cardinals and that probably had an impact on their performance.
The Brewers bullpen revolves around Josh Hader and he hasn’t been brought into situations that are perfectly suited for him. It’s confusing. Maybe Counsell will have some answers and hopefully we’ll see Hader soon.