Yesterday I tweeted, mostly jokingly, that Billy Wagner was still on the Braves 40-man roster. Many others have continued to notice the same thing, fueling rumors that the left-hander isn’t ready to retire.
David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution did his best to dispel that notion last night, writing that there has been no indication from anyone involved that Wagner has wavered from retirement and is quietly gearing up for spring training. His retirement isn’t official yet, but Wagner’s agent has told Braves general manager Frank Wren on multiple occasions this offseason that his retirement paperwork will be filed.
Well, what the heck has taken so long? Who knows. Buster Olney of ESPN.com wonders if perhaps Wagner has held back on his final decision just in case he gets the impulse to pitch again as spring training nears. Plausible, I guess, but the Braves are confident that Wagner’s fantastic career is over.
One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.
NLCS Game 6
Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.
For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.
As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.