Burnes, Woody set for G1 and G2 of NLDS

Williams has surgery for fractured right hand; Cousins ready to go

October 8th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- History says the Brewers usually have some tricks up their sleeves in the postseason, but this is not one of those instances. The team announced on Tuesday that would start Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Friday against the Braves, followed by in Game 2.

Given that duo posted the best (Burnes, 2.43) and fourth-best (Woodruff, 2.56) ERAs among qualified Major League starters, that order isn’t much of a surprise. Though Woodruff was Milwaukee’s Opening Day starter, Burnes had the superior season, leading MLB in strikeout rate, strikeout-to-walk ratio and FIP.

“We want to set the tone right away, and what better way to set it than with our two horses at the top,” second baseman Kolten Wong said. “Those two guys have been doing it for us all year, and if they can do it for us for two games in Milwaukee, we’re excited for us going to Atlanta [for Game 3 and, if necessary, Game 4] and trying to seal it there.”

The Brewers announced probable pitchers for only the first two games of the best-of-five series, but Freddy Peralta appears to be a leading candidate for Game 3. He and Woodruff both opted not to pitch on the final day of the regular season at Dodger Stadium in favor of a brief simulated game on Tuesday night at American Family Field.

The Brewers’ other starting options are right-hander Adrian Houser and left-hander Eric Lauer.

“I guess we could have lined it up any way we wanted, but either way you go, we’re good there with those guys one or two,” Brewers pitching coach Chris Hook said. “I don’t know if it matters [to the pitchers]. I think they’re at a point where they’re locked in with their start, and I don’t think it matters so much where they go. They just know they have been preparing for this moment all season.”

Williams has surgery

Setup man underwent surgery to install a plate in his fractured right hand on Friday, an injury he sustained after punching a wall last week in the wake of the Brewers clinching the NL Central title.

Williams had the procedure in St. Louis, his hometown, where the Brewers were playing when they discovered the fracture. He will eventually travel to the team’s spring facility in Phoenix to rehab.

The timeline remains the same as initially stated: Williams has a chance to pitch in the World Series should the Brewers get that far, but it’s an outside shot.

“This isn't a particularly complicated surgery, it just takes time,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “He's in a splint right now. … I think [Arizona is] the best place for him to expedite this. Hopefully, if we're able to advance, and he gets a little bit closer, we may be able to change the setting a little bit.”

Cousins is ‘good’ to go

Right-hander completed a three-step rehab -- from what he characterized as a minor right biceps injury -- when he threw about 15 pitches to hitters on Tuesday night. Before that session at American Family Field, Cousins threw an extensive bullpen session on Friday and pitched one inning for Triple-A Nashville on Sunday.

Cousins' time on the injured list allowed one other matter to be cleared up. When he last pitched on Sept. 23 against the Cardinals, the umpiring crew objected to Cousins’ glove, which was already light blonde in color and had been baked all summer in the sun. Cousins had pitched two days earlier with the same umpiring crew without incident, but on this night, they made him switch to a black glove.

Longtime equipment manager Jason Shawger came to the rescue. He used leather dye and shoe polish to transform the outside of Cousins’ preferred game glove to a shade of blue so dark that it appears black -- Cousins intends to use it in the postseason.

Cousins, who had a 2.70 ERA and 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 30 appearances during the regular season, figures to play a role in helping Milwaukee cover the loss of Williams.

“I was good to go in games back on Day 3 or 4 [of an IL stint that began Sept. 25],” Cousins said. “Given the situation we were in, it didn’t make sense to push it and make it something worse than it would have been.

“It was super minor. I literally only took two days off from throwing, and that’s with an off-day. I just did a ton of shoulder and [scapula] strengthening, and I haven’t felt it at all. I’m good.”