C.J. Nitkowski: Brewers Will Rely Heavily On Bullpen Against Dodgers in NLCS

Don't expect Milwaukee's starters to work deep into games – even if they're in control

After Hours with Amy Lawrence
October 29, 2018 - 8:18 am

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The Brewers and Dodgers will square off in Game 1 of the NLCS on Friday, and Gio Gonzalez – not Jhoulys Chacin – will start for Milwaukee. 

Chacin was masterful in Game 2 of the NLDS against Colorado, pitching five shutout innings in a 4-0 win. Gonzalez, meanwhile, hasn’t pitched since Sept. 30.

Should we be surprised by manager Craig Counsell’s decision?

“It’s a little bit surprising,” Sirius XM MLB Network Radio Host C.J. Nitkowski said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Anytime you go with your Game 1 starter for a potential seven-game series, there are thoughts of bringing guys back, using guys on short rest and as far as how you want to line that up. There’s without a doubt some concerns when a guy hasn’t pitched in a while. You worry about guys getting a little bit rusty. How are they going to feel bouncing back from all that time off?”

As Nitkowski pointed out, though, Milwaukee doesn’t need eight innings from Gonzalez. Or seven, or six, or even five.

“I think for Craig Counsell, this is more about matching up a little bit, using the left-handed starter against that Dodgers lineup because they can play matchups with you and they’re not afraid to make their changes early,” Nitkowski said. “We also know that part of the Brewers’ plan is to rely heavily on bullpen. Maybe they’re just hoping Gio Gonzalez can get through that order two times, keep some of those left-handed bats on the bench for the first half of the game, and then hand it over to your bullpen. (That’s) a game plan that, if executed properly, certainly could work well against the Dodgers.”