In sports, every decision that a manager or coach makes is put under the strongest of microscopes. In the playoffs, those decisions are magnified, for lack of a better word, to an even more extreme level.
Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell made one of those types of decisions during Tuesday's game one Wild Card matchup against the Arizona Diamondbacks. And unfortunately, it was one that likely didn't resonate well with a vast majority of fans.
The moment came in the top of the eighth inning. The Brewers had been down 4-3 since the fourth inning and though they had put plenty of runners on base in the game, they still were looking to tie things back up. So Counsell opted for a pinch hitter to try and spark a rally.
With the Brewers down in the eighth, manager Craig Counsell made a head-scratching decision in having Jesse Winker pinch hit.
Needing someone to ignite the offense in the eighth inning, Counsell had plenty of options to choose from having carried 15 hitters on the Wild Card roster. And for some reason, he decided to go with Jesse Winker in that moment.
It's not as though the pinch hit decision in itself was a bad one. Brice Turang, who Winker replaced in the lineup, was 0-for-1 with a walk, a strikeout, and a sacrifice bunt. So it could be understood if Counsell wanted to go with someone who was a more sure bet to get a hit in that moment.
So then why would Counsell go with someone like Winker, who had a season to forget as he slashed .199/.320/.247 in 61 games? Sure, he looked good in some rehab starts down at Triple-A toward the end of the season, but that's way different than an MLB playoff game.
In what probably wasn't much of a surprise to many Brewers fans, Winker struck out on three straight pitches. To add injury to insult, Winker had to have the athletic trainer come out and check in on him after the second of the three pitches after he winced following a swing and miss.
Among the players that Counsell could have opted to turn to instead were Victor Caratini, Andruw Monasterio, Owen Miller, Blake Perkins, and Joey Wiemer. That may not be a murderer's row of bench players, but pretty much all of them provided more offense this season for the Brewers than Winker.
Did this one decision cause the Brewers to lose the game? No. But who knows what might have happened if Counsell had made a different decision in this one moment?