When the Reds said Ryan Madson needed Tommy John surgery, ruling him out for the season, all indications were that Aroldis Chapman was headed back to the pen to help out in the seventh and eighth innings. Yet the 24-year-old Cuban defector made another start Thursday, allowing two runs in five innings against the Brewers.
Facing something close to Milwaukee’s regular lineup, Chapman struck out six and walked none. Obviously, control is the big issue for him as a potential starter — he walked 41 in 50 innings out of the pen last season — but he’s been great this spring, amassing an 18/2 K/BB ratio in 17 innings of work.
The Reds may still figure they’re better off with Chapman in the pen and Homer Bailey in the rotation, and given Bailey’s ever improving peripherals, they might be right. Still, if Chapman can keep his walk rate down, he’d likely be a dynamic starting pitcher. It’d be nice to see what he can do in that role next month, considering that he can always be sent back to the pen later. It’s not quite so easy going the other way.
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.