Baltimore fans who remember Wade Miley’s lack of success as an Oriole probably thought he might not pitch deep into Game 5 of the National League Championship Series yesterday when his Milwaukee Brewers faced the Los Angeles Dodgers.
They were right. Miley lasted one batter. He threw just five pitches as he walked Cody Bellinger.
But he wasn’t pulled due to ineffectiveness or an injury. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had loaded his lineup with right-handed hitters to face the left-handed Miley. But after Miley walked Bellinger, Brewers manager Craig Counsell swapped Miley out for righty Brandon Woodruff. Perhaps the Dodgers were on to this maneuver, as it was pointed out during the broadcast that while the Dodgers had no lefty batters in their lineup against Miley in Game 2, they had two yesterday.
Was Miley an opener, initial out-getter (who didn’t get an out) or just a starter who went only five pitches? Who knows. Call him what you will.
Miley is now scheduled to start Game 6 on Friday at Milwaukee. That means he will start back-to-back games in the NLCS, and he will have started three of the first six games for the Brewers. Yep, this is the same Miley who went 8-15 with a 5.61 ERA and 1.729 WHIP in 32 starts for the 2017 Orioles. For the Brewers this year, he went 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 1.215 WHIP in 16 starts.
There is certainly nothing within the rules that Counsell violated by pulling Miley so quickly. But haven’t teams for years announced starters so the opposing manager could set a lineup to face that specific pitcher?
Was Counsell just smart here, as he found a variation of the use of an opener? I mentioned this move on Twitter last night and got many responses. Here are a few:
“I call it good managerial strategy. Hope it works out for them. Not a big fan of those ‘unwritten’ baseball rules.”
“This is some Earl Weaver/Steve Stone stuff.”
“Surprised it took this long, I think it is brilliant.”
“It’s not good for the game.”
“All’s fair in love and baseball.”
So what is your take on the Milwaukee strategy with Miley in Game 5?
Meanwhile, more Machado: On Tuesday morning in this space, I wrote about the large amount of criticism that former Oriole Manny Machado was getting. It stemmed from his not running out a grounder in Game 2 of the NLCS.
Who knew the spotlight on Machado would get even brighter and hotter after the game that night? But it did, and another groundout by Machado was involved. This time, when he got to the bag, he kicked at the leg of Milwaukee first baseman Jesús Aguilar.
To say the least, this move was dissed by many.
“A dirty play by a dirty player. It absolutely is,” Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich told reporters. “I have a lot of respect for him as a player, but you can’t respect someone who plays the game like that.”
Manny has played good ball for the Dodgers in the postseason. But between questionable slides at second base, not running out the ball in Game 2 and what happened at first base Tuesday, he’s getting ripped throughout the game.
It seemed that Machado was showing maturity this year. He often handled the attention about his pending free agency and all those interviews with out-of-town media very well. But during the games this month, he has let his temper and emotions get the best of him.
It’s not a good look. It seemed he had put that all behind him, but he hasn’t.
Then there is this: Once again, talk of sign-stealing and cheating in baseball is in the news. This time the Houston Astros are at the center of a storm. Check out this lengthy story from Bleacher Report.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg with the Astros,” one major league executive, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, told Bleacher Report on Wednesday. “They’ve been doing it for years.”