The Rockies will return to a traditional five-man rotation next year

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We heard late last month that the Rockies were planning to stick with a four-man rotation next year, but it turns out they will have a more conventional approach. Rockies assistant general manager Bill Geivett told Troy Renck of the Denver Post last night that the team will return to a traditional five-man rotation next season.

While the Rockies were limiting their starters to around 75 pitches, they will now work in the 90-100 range while starting on four days’ rest. The team plans to keep three “piggyback relievers” as a leftover from the experiment.

The Rockies had a 6.28 ERA from their starters when they made the switch in mid-June. They’ll enter play today with a 5.88 ERA, so while they have improved, that’s not saying much. Heck, that might have happened anyway if they stuck with five starters. The experiment also put added stress on their relievers, who rank 26th in the majors with a 4.66 ERA.

After analyzing the data and getting input from general manager Dan O’Dowd and manager Jim Tracy, it was ultimately decided that the team’s four-man rotation approach wasn’t feasible over a full season.

“There are issues in a lot of areas that put us where five is a better way to go as a standard rule. One, in terms of the length of the season, can the guys recover when you have all those consecutive days (of games)? We were in situations where we had to bump a guy back or use another guy,” Geivett told The Denver Post.

“Recovery was one. Development was another, because their side work was really limited between games. We were really limited on how much they could do to work on their delivery; that was difficult as well.”

The Rockies have struggled to find a pitching approach that works in Coors Field, so they deserve credit for trying something different while missing key cogs like Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin. It would have been nice to see them continue it with a better collection of talent, but perhaps someone will be inspired to take this concept and run with it in the future.

Brewers on the brink of their first pennant in 36 years

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A series that had swung back and forth twice already swung back in Milwaukee’s favor last night with a convincing win. That it was convincing — it was not at all close after the second inning — is a key factor heading into today, as Craig Counsell has his bullpen set up nicely to shorten the game if his Brewers can get an early lead.

Josh Hader — who, if you are unaware, has not allowed a run and has struck out 12 batters in seven innings of postseason work — did not pitch yesterday or in Game 5. As such, he’s had three full days off. Given that this is a win or go home day and, if they win, he’s guaranteed two more days off before the World Series, he’s good for two innings and could very well go for three. That’s not what you want if you’re the Dodgers.

But it gets worse. Jeremy Jeffress pitched last night but it was only one pretty easy inning, so he could go two if he has to. Corey Knebel pitched an inning and two-thirds but he could probably give Counsell an inning of work if need be. Joakim Soria didn’t pitch at all yesterday. Between those guys and the less important relievers, all of whom save Brandon Woodruff are all pretty fresh, the Dodgers aren’t going to have any easy marks.

But the thing is: Counsell may not need to go that deep given that Jhoulys Chacin, their best starter of the postseason, gets the start. So, yes, in light of that, you have to like the Brewers’ chances tonight, and that’s before you realize that the home crowd is going to be louder than hell.

Not that the Dodgers are going to roll over — it’ll be all hands on deck for them with every pitcher except for Hyun-Jim Ryu available, you figure — but if they’re going to repeat as NL champs, they’re going to have to earn it either by bloodying Chacin’s nose early and neutralizing the threat of facing Hader and company with a lead, or by marching through the teeth of the Brewers bullpen and coming out alive on the other side.
NLCS Game 6

Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:09 PM Eastern
TV: FS1
Pitchers:  Walker Buehler vs. Jhoulys Chacin
Breakdown:

The most important part of this breakdown — the stuff about the Brewers’ pen — has already been said and, I presume anyway, the starters here will have the shortest of leashes. Chacin’s will be longer, as he has not allowed a run over 10 and a third innings in his first two postseason starts, making him the Brewers’ defacto ace. Every inning he goes tonight makes things much, much harder for the Dodgers once he’s gone as it means Milwaukee will be able to rely more and more on Hader and Jeffress, so the Dodgers had best get to him early.

Buehler has come up weak so far this postseason, having allowed nine runs in 12 innings, including surrendering four runs on six hits over seven innings in Milwaukee’s Game 3 victory. Still, it’s not hard to remember how dominating he was in the second half of the season. If that Buehler shows up and can keep things close, we’ll have a ballgame. If L.A. finds itself in an early hole once again, theirs will be the tallest of orders.