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Brewers prefer auto runner: 'A lot of strategy'

@AdamMcCalvy
July 28, 2020

Even before Milwaukee triumphed over Pittsburgh in Major League Baseball’s first game to stretch beyond 10 innings in 2020, many Brewers had already formed an opinion of the new extra-inning rule imposed this season. The consensus may surprise some purists: Most of the men who were polled are in favor

Even before Milwaukee triumphed over Pittsburgh in Major League Baseball’s first game to stretch beyond 10 innings in 2020, many Brewers had already formed an opinion of the new extra-inning rule imposed this season. The consensus may surprise some purists: Most of the men who were polled are in favor of it.

Here’s a sampling of the clubhouse pulse over the past few weeks:

Christian Yelich: "I think it's great. As a player, there's nothing worse than extra innings. Especially in a season like this, where you literally can't take on that 15- or 16-inning game with just how rosters are constructed, and pitchers not being built up to where they usually are, and not really having the option to draw from the Minor League talent pool. So, I don't mind the rule. And I'm excited to see how it plays out."

President of baseball operations David Stearns: “I really like it. It’s something I’ve advocated for a while. We’ve seen it in the Minor Leagues, we’ve seen it in international play. It creates a really exciting, immediate scenario when you get to extra innings. From a baseball operations perspective and a roster management perspective, some of the more challenging things we deal with during the course of a season is recovering from a 15- or 18-inning game. They can impact you for weeks after that if they are compounded by other challenging games. So, I am in favor of it. I think fans, once they get used to it, are going to enjoy it.”

Braun's late heroics lead to win in extras

Josh Hader: “You think about it, we’ve never taken off three months and then had to get kicked back going. I think for the risk of injury, not draining everybody’s teams, obviously you know how extra innings can go -- they can go 16 innings sometimes and go multiple hours, and you have to go through your whole pitching staff. I think that’s one of the ways that they’re really helping calm down on too much stress on a pitching staff.”

Keston Hiura: “At first, I was really unsure about it. It's harder to win ballgames if you're the away team, I believe. So, I think if you’re in the situation where you have a runner on second base with no outs, do you try to just play it safe? You pretty much have to get a run across in the top of the inning, because you know if you don't, the home team will bunt him over and then get him in. So, it's definitely a lot of strategy involved. It kind of grew on me. I still have mixed feelings about it.”

Brent Suter: “The baseball purist was worried about it changing the game, but when I did my rehab last year and I saw it in place, people were talking about how exciting it was. I said I was going to give it a real chance. If I'm out there with a guy on second, I’m going to treat him like he's one of my teammates’ runs and do everything in my power to not let him score. It'll be a challenge, but it's something we've signed up for.”

Ryan Braun: “I think that for all of us, we recognize with the uniqueness of this season that it made sense to kind of try a lot of different things in an effort to keep guys healthy and avoid playing extremely long games. I think it definitely makes sense for this year. It was really unique to experience it [Monday] night. Fortunately, we came out on the good end of, it but I could see how it becomes a really difficult situation if you give up a ground ball or fly ball and you lose a game.”

Brandon Woodruff: “I hope this is all a one-year type of experiment. We're doing some things that, obviously, we haven't done -- runner on second in extra innings, designated hitter in the National League -- and, you know, I get it. It's part of this year, it's part of these times. … You just want baseball to be normal, but you know, for this year, things are different and you kind of just roll with it.”

Manager Craig Counsell: “I guess I'm leaning toward I like the rule, because I think it creates action in the game, which I like, which the game needs. And it also just shortens these games. I don't think there's a reason to play 17 innings and make roster moves for guys that don't deserve a roster move. And that happens regularly to one or two players if we play a game that goes more than 12 innings. But yeah, when you don't score, and it's basically their team leading off with a double, that doesn't feel too good. No doubt.”

Anderson to start home opener

Left-hander Brett Anderson will be activated from the 10-day injured list to start Friday’s scheduled home opener against the Cardinals, Counsell said Tuesday. Anderson opened the season on the IL due to a blister on his left index finger but pitched an extended outing at the team’s alternate training site on Sunday, then was cleared to return to action. It would be his Brewers debut after signing a one-year free-agent contract.

Counsell declined for now to divulge his plans for the rotation beyond Friday. Right-hander Corbin Burnes had been lined up to start in that spot, and he could either piggyback with Anderson or bump back. Not including Josh Lindblom, who left Tuesday's start in the fourth inning with an injury, the Brewers now have six pitchers stretched out to the point that they could start games: Woodruff, Anderson, Adrian Houser, Burnes, Peralta and Eric Lauer.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.