Craig Counsell's strange pitching decision shows how terrified he is to face Brewers

The Cubs are pushing back Shota Imanaga multiple days just to face the Brewers
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers v Chicago Cubs / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

Despite the Brewers still having a few games to play in Boston to finish out this road trip, the vast majority of the Brewers fan base is already looking ahead for when the Brewers return home, and not just so they can tailgate and watch their hometown Crew again. Monday begins a series against the rival Chicago Cubs, led by former Brewers manager Craig Counsell.

This will be Counsell's first visit to American Family Field since his dramatic bolt to Chicago last offseason. The fanbase has been anticipating this matchup ever since and Counsell knows the tensions will be high.

That might explain the most peculiar thing that Counsell just did as the Cubs manager. Shota Imanaga has come in and pitched like a true ace for the Cubs, signing as a free agent from Japan, with a stellar 0.84 ERA through his first nine starts.

Imanaga was scheduled to start on Friday for the Cubs, but the game was rained out. Instead of pitching Imanaga the next day and keeping with his turn in the rotation, Counsell is pushing Imanaga's next start all the way to Monday, the start of the Brewers series.

Imanaga going from being scheduled to pitch on Friday to getting an extra two days of rest just to start the first game back in Milwaukee for Counsell certainly doesn't feel like a coincidence. He's their best starter by a mile and if he was fine to pitch on Friday if not for the weather, then there should be no reason he'd need an extra couple of days before he pitches again.

The last start Imanaga made was May 18th. That means by the time he makes his start on May 27th against the Brewers, he'll have gotten a full eight days of rest from his last outing.

Even if Imanaga was to start on Saturday, he'd still pitch during the Brewers series on regular rest. He would've been in line to start the final game on Thursday. Instead, Counsell wants him for the first game of the series.

This game on Memorial Day is one of the most anticipated matchups of the year. This whole series is highly anticipated but Monday being the very first game and a holiday with a sellout crowd just adds to the anticipation and the emotion that will be in the ballpark. It looks like Counsell is sensing that and is acting accordingly.

The Brewers will have rookie Robert Gasser on the mound for Monday's game on regular rest as Pat Murphy isn't playing those kinds of games with his rotation just for the first game of the series.

Milwaukee holds a two game lead over the Cubs in the NL Central, which adds even further drama to an already dramatic matchup.