Brewers' Wade Miley is first pitcher in 88 years to face this postseason challenge

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell has taken gamesmanship to a whole new level during the National League Championship Series. As a result, pitcher Wade Miley will make postseason history when he starts Game 6 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After the Brewers’ 5-2 loss in Game 5, which Miley started and faced one batter, Counsell announced the lefty will also start Game 6 Friday night at Miller Park. When he does, Miley will be the first pitcher since the 1930 World Series to start back-to-back team games in the same postseason series.

According to Stats, George Earnshaw of the Philadelphia Athletics was the last pitcher tasked with that challenge. He started Games 5 and 6 of the 1930 World Series.

The times and the circumstances couldn’t be any different. While Miley’s start in Game 5 was purely strategic, Earnshaw’s back-to-back outings were out of necessity. He pitched deep into both games, facing a combined 61 hitters. He was somehow brilliant in both outings, leading the Athletics to a 4-2 series win against the St. Louis Cardinals.

So much for short rest being an issue.

Earnshaw started three games total over a span of seven days during the 1930 World Series. He went 2-0 — drawing a no-decision in Game 5 — and allowed two earned runs on 13 hits over 25 innings. That’s good for a 0.72 ERA.

For Miley, Game 6 will also mark his third start in a span of seven days. The third NLCS start also puts Miley in select company.

Again, the circumstances couldn’t be any more different from those previous three-start pitchers. Counsell was simply looking for any advantage he could find in Game 5, rather than getting a productive starting pitcher more critical innings.

“Yeah, that’s what we were going to do all along,” Counsell admitted after the game. “Wade is going to pitch Game 6. If we went down 3-1 we were considering having Wade pitch this game. But other than that, this is kind of what we decided we were going to do.”

Miley pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in Game 2. That made him a logical candidate for another start in the series.

Brewers pitcher Wade Miley (No. 20) is slated to start NLCS Game 6 after starting Game 5 and facing only one batter. (AP)
Brewers pitcher Wade Miley (No. 20) is slated to start NLCS Game 6 after starting Game 5 and facing only one batter. (AP)

How Counsell has arranged it doesn’t seem all that logical, but not a lot has this season.

In a season where “bullpenning” has become more prevalent, Counsell has taken to calling his opening pitchers initial “out-getters” as opposed to starters. He’s gone all-in on matchups and riding his relievers with a rotation that’s limited in depth.

The starters have done their job, limiting postseason opponents to two earned runs over 27 innings. The problem is the 27 innings. The bullpen has had to pick up 49 innings in the postseason, and has shown some cracks in this series. Particularly in Game 5, where it was required to pick up eight innings after tossing 11 2/3 innings less than 24 hours earlier in Game 4.

It’s anybody’s guess what Counsell’s plan for Miley will be in Game 6. But we sincerely doubt he’ll be asked to venture into George Earnshaw territory.

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