The Brewers have officially completed the hard part, getting to the postseason. You could look back at the individual successes and the great moments, or you could look at what got them to where they are. September was an exceptional month for the team, winning 9/10 series and having an overall record of 19-7. However, it’s not just for the cycles and home runs, its the strategy behind it.
This started the heroic strategy of September. When you think of a September call-ups, you think of a team bringing in a few young guys to get experience or to add a little depth. The Brewers took this idea to the next level. They went from 25 guys to 36 guys in the dugout contributing to a postseason run.
Here is where they really got smart. They called up five pitchers and moved Junior Guerra to the bullpen, that turned an eight man pen into a 14 man pen. Every single pitcher who was in the bullpen at the start of September all had some sort of major league experience.
Going into the season, the starting pitching was something to be expected as a weak point. Over the course of the season, and September, the pitching has flourished. The pitchers have not been asked to do anything they can’t. They haven’t been asked to go seven innings every start and allow only two hits.
What they have been asked to do this September is pitch four to five innings and allow the bullpen take over. This month the average start is around 4.2 innings. The rest of the game has been covered by the bullpen – A team strength. This works because they have 14 guys in the pen who can all perform very well. Both these points connect to the last point.
Dan Jennings Starting? “Out of the Box Thinking”
At the onset of the season, if you were to say that Dan Jennings would start a ballgame, disbelief would have overcome the moment. Even saying the word “start” doesn’t cover all bases. He came in and pitched the first at-bat to lefty Matt Carpenter. He pitched three pitches and got a ground ball out.
Then Freddy Peralta was called in to cover the next couple of innings. This plays into how Counsell manages the pitching staff. No one is called a closer, set-up man, or even a starter. He calls them all “out-getters”. Using the correct “out-getters” in the correct situations has resulted in winning all series in September except for one.
The Brewers have done some very interesting things this September and it has led to their first playoff berth in seven years. The way Counsell has managed this team has made them incredibly consistent with little fatigue. In a month were teams either press hard or prepare for the future they have kept an even attitude and keep finding ways to win.