Last year's headline: The Dodgers are beautifully set up for the NLCS.
The sub-hed: "The Dodgers did not have to use surprises or fancy tricks to get through the Diamondbacks, and that will help a lot."
The point: The Dodgers came through the 2017 NLDS with all three lives and a sequel to the left. It would help them.
And it did. It helped them all the way to the World Series. In the NLCS 2017, they had a well-fed Clayton Kershaw and a well-fed Rich Hill behind them. Alex Wood did not even have to throw a field. Kenley Jansen threw 3⅔ innings, two innings less than he threw in the 201
This is relevant to our interests as the Brewers are very well positioned for Game 7 of the NLCS 2018. It's so obvious, so relevant to everything that's going to happen. The Brewers are trying to get into the World Series with a bullpen and a dream, and the Copper are approaching and looking to give them a shot. That could be crazy enough to work. And it looks good. The Brewers Bullpen can come in the fourth inning of a game 7 if necessary. Maybe even the third inning.
Corbin Burnes took care of that. He put in two nice innings and according to FanGraphs that was good for a chance of winning 0.137. Even if you're not sure about the WPA, you know it's best for every pitcher to appear in the game. No pitcher contributed more to his team's chances of winning than Burnes did. Good for him
But that's an understatement.
It undercuts it because Josh Hader warmed up in the bullpen and Craig Counsell waited, waiting to pull off. He will never admit it. Was it a base runner? Was it two? Hader was finally ready, and the manager had to find out if it was worth the moment to play that particular card. The Brewers had gotten up at four o'clock, but another single and maybe a single, and then the binding hour on deck was technically a safe situation, so, oh, no, no, GET ME HADER.
It would have been so easy to pull that lever. If Burnes makes a line ride in the eighth round, Counsell could have brought Hader into play and spent the balls he needed for a Game 7.
So, give Corbin Burnes a cool .100 head start on his Game 7 WPA. He deserves it. Because he has not gotten ridiculous, this means that Super Megaton helper Josh Hader is completely rested for Game 7. We knew that the Brewers had to do everything skillfully, and now they are here with a pennant the line, perfectly decorated. Go through the entire bullpen.
How many innings is Corey Knebel in Game 7 (25 squares in Game 6)?
For how many innings is Jeremy Jeffress good (13 places)?
At least two.
For how many innings is Joakim Soria good (DNP – coaching decision)?
Probably two. I mean, he'll probably go one, but if you have to stretch him, he's there.
How about extra innings if needed?
Gio Gonzalez has thrown 58 games in this series. He's good for … five innings when it comes to that?
Zach Davies threw 18 of this series. He is good for seven innings, give or take.
Brandon Woodruff threw 97, so he's probably taboo after one or three bats! But Corbin Burnes, who was so dominant in Game 6, threw only 24 places. He's probably good for an inning, at least.
We did not even come to Xavier Cedeño or Freddy Peralta, who have both arms of fate. Unpolished weapons of doom, but still. None of them will give you the meat when they get into a game. They are legitimate Major League weapons.
And that's the complete overview of the Brewers Bullpen. Gag can probably do an inning, and Jeffress can probably go two. Soria is completely rested, so he can walk as long as possible, and if Joakim Soria gets into trouble early on, the Brewers know they can rely on Gonzalez or Davies to eat up as many innings as they can. That's before you come to Burns, Cedeño and Peralta.
For a team with the "Bullpen more, stupid" strategy this is almost a best-case scenario.
I can not help but think that I miss something.
Gag, Jeffress, Soria, yes, all closers at one point. Gonzalez, Davis and Woodruff, starters, all, someday. A few live weapons behind all those jugs, too. Seems awful.
But there's something missing, and I can not say oh OH, TRUE, IT'S JOSH HADER, THE ULTIMATE POSTSEASON WEAPON. Is Hader good for two innings tomorrow? Three innings? Leave him at the first sign of trouble or get him in the game if the game is undeniably on the line? Maybe start the game with him throw three scoreless. It does not matter. There are two days off, regardless of the outcome, so set it up and make it hard.
The Brewers' staff could be on Saturday at 20 innings able to get deep into a Game 7 with high-quality weapons. They also happen to have the ultimate post-war weapon, which they will use with the slightest provocation. In 2018, the Brewers may bring Andrew Miller More Or Less into the game, taking two innings away from the other team. You can time it for a maximum benefit.
It will of course crumble everything with a loose stone. If Jeffress does not have it in his looks, well, that stinks, and everyone goes one level higher. And if Gag is tired or Burnes can not come back so quickly, or if Hader does not want to get into the third inning and messes up because he's not ready or … it's almost like you do not trust an enthusiast.
But that's how the Brewers drew it. They used a super fine pencil and the best inks to draw, you know. They are proud to show the blueprints, if you ask. This series is not over, not even close, so do not take that as a prediction that fate awaits the Dodgers, but the Brewers' bullpen is rested and effective.
As far as reasonable, this scenario was about this as good as the Brewers had hoped. They knew they did not have a trio of starters. They knew they would need a village to get to the World Series, and they were ready to crush that village to a fine dust. They did not have to. You can approach Game 7 as if it were a Game 7 – all hands on deck – except that they do not ask all of their pitchers to breathe in and dig deep. You can just ask their pitchers to have a normal game.
These games have brought the Brewers to where they are now. For this reason, they are very well prepared for Game 7 and have the chance to go to the World Series. It might not work. But if not, it is not because the design was missing.
The Brewers are right where they want to be.
You just have to win, you know.