Jaffe: The gambit versus the ace

From SABR member Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs on October 18, 2018:

Early in this NLCS, when the defining feature of it seemed to be the randomness of Brandon Woodruff’s Game One homer off Clayton Kershaw and Wade Miley’s Game Two double off Hyun-Jin Ryu, it was easy to scoff at the hype equating the series to a chess match between managers Craig Counsell and Dave Roberts. As the series has unfolded, however, watching Counsell handle the Brewers’ pitching staff in a fashion largely without precedent in postseason baseball and Roberts use the Dodgers’ roster’s depth and versatility to counter with “line changes” (in the hockey sense) to secure the platoon advantage in as many spots as possible has made for a compelling accompaniment to the action on the field.

Never was that more true than in Game Five, when Counsell’s shockingly quick hook of Miley in favor of Woodruff — echoing a tactic from a World Series nearly a century ago — and Roberts’ persistence in sticking with Kershaw made for the series’ starkest contrast yet. Ultimately, the Dodgers outlasted the Brewers for a 5-2 win and a 3-2 series edge.


Miley’s exit was just the second time in postseason history that a starting pitcher was removed after one batter, the other being the Reds’ Johnny Cueto in the 2012 Division Series opener against the Giants, but he left due to back spasms. In spirit, Counsell’s move was more akin to the Senators’ Curly Ogden gambit in Game Seven of the 1924 World Series against the Giants. Washington manager Bucky Harris started the right-handed Ogden in order to encourage New York manager John McGraw to start lefty-swinging first baseman Bill Terry, a future Hall of Famer who, as a rookie that year, hit just .239/.311/.399 (90 wRC+).

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-gambit-versus-the-ace/

Originally published: October 19, 2018. Last Updated: October 19, 2018.