It’s been apparent for a while now that playoff baseball is in many ways a different sport from regular season baseball. Strategies and roster selection, especially with regards to the use of pitching, are just not comparable; during the regular season, teams might have weeks between off-days, while they’re built in to every postseason series.

That’s not to mention the relative importance of any single game. Which is how we got today’s decision from Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell to start lefty Wade Miley, which Counsell knew would prompt the Dodgers to start a lineup of hitter’s more successful against lefties than right-handers. And then, after Miley walked Cody Bellinger, Counsell removed him in favor of reliever Brandon Woodruff.

Miley is also apparently going to start Friday’s Game 5:

This is a ploy that has been considered for a while, because it’s so obvious, and it’s a way to exploit the modern tendency to rely on platoon splits for both overall roster and daily lineup construction. But, as when it came up as an idea in places like the Effectively Wild mailbag, the downside was the immediate vitriol that would be dumped on whoever decided to do it, and that’s indeed what’s happened.

Here are a select few tweets from a quick search, there are plenty more out there though:

Smoltz went silent, for long enough that he felt the need to let viewers know his mic was indeed working:

Smoltz then demonstrated why he’s been such a polarizing figure this Postseason on Fox, as instead of looking to explain why the Brewers may have tried this strategy, he spent a lengthy period of the broadcast talking about why it was dumb, with the thrust of his commentary being that it’s bad for the starter’s mindset, whatever that means:

The Dodgers are winning at the moment anyway, but it’s still an interesting (and viable) strategy under the rules of the game. It’d just be nice to have analysts be as forward-thinking as the teams involved.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.

2 thoughts on “The Brewers used Wade Miley for one batter, and it shocked John Smoltz into silence

  1. Um … no. Mind you, it’s all well and good for the Brewers to do it. But if you’re going to tell me that John Smoltz doesn’t understand how a pitcher’s mind works, I’m going to suggest that you go back into the shop to learn some baseball.

    That doesn’t mean I agree with Smoltz. But I will add this: he is absolutely right about the idiocy of not hitting against the shift or thinking that a strikeout with a runner at second and nobody out is just the same as a ground ball to the right side that gets the runner to third. Managers like Dave Roberts correctly understand that you can’t manage the same way in the post-season that you do in April (it’s why the worst regular-season field strategist I ever saw, Tommy Lasorda, also may have been the best post-season manager I ever saw), but he doesn’t seem to understand that there are times when you also take the supposedly perfect analytics approach and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

  2. I think pulling the starter after one batter was a stupid idea as well. I get the thing about the lefty-righty lineup, but the ploy would have been more pertinent in a regular-season game. The Brewer bullpen had been stretched out in a 13-inning loss not even 24 hours before. So in a critical Game 5 of a seven-game series, you put one pitcher out of the game after the first batter and use up a very effective reliever in the early innings? That’s two arms you do not have later in the game when you’re more likely to need them. As it turned out, the Brewers probably could have used them because now they enter Game 6 on the brink of elimination.

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