Miley to start G3 with sweep, NLCS trip on line

Homecoming for Rockies' GM, who grew up rooting for Milwaukee

October 5th, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell has referred to certain statistical splits as "fun with numbers," like his team's early-season troubles in day games, or on Sundays. No, Counsell assured everyone, Brewers players were not partying the nights away and losing under the sun. It was a fluke and would correct itself, which to some extent down the stretch of the regular season, it did.

But then there are the splits that matter, like these:

The Rockies were 14th of 15 National League teams with a .665 OPS on the road versus first in the league with an .852 OPS at home, where it's not just the altitude that creates a hitter-friendly environment, but the gigantic outfield at Coors Field.

And they were significantly tougher on left-handed pitchers -- 50 points of OPS tougher, with and helping to fuel an NL-leading .798 OPS against southpaws.

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

It will be up to Brewers left-hander to defy those statistics as long as he can in Game 3 of the NL Division Series on Sunday at Coors Field. He'll toe the rubber with a chance to help the Brewers sweep their way into the NL Championship Series after a 4-0 win in Game 2

Miley won't pretend it's just another game. 

"I think you have to use that, use the adrenaline and use the excitement, and try to go in there and give them a chance to win," Miley said. "It's just a nine-inning baseball game, hopefully." 

Brewers-Rockies G3: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

He'll be trying to continue what Brewers pitchers have started. They have held Colorado to two runs on 10 hits over 19 innings in Games 1 and 2. 

"Look, I believe in Wade Miley," said Counsell, "and I believe in [the other left-handed starter on Milwaukee's NLDS roster] and getting outs. Wade has been really good against right-handed hitters this year, so it's -- I'm very comfortable with it."

Miley, armed with a cutter he used more than ever in 2018, did fare well against right-handed hitters. They posted a .645 OPS against him, compared to .605 for lefties. In 16 regular-season starts during a season shortened by groin and oblique injuries, Miley never surrendered more than three earned runs.

He knows the Brewers will have plenty of right-handers with "length" on the roster ready to follow if necessary.

"I think the way we've pitched all year is we've been piecing together 27 outs, no matter who's out there and who starts," said Miley. "I just think everybody bought into what we're doing here, and then … it's time to turn it over to the bullpen. Everybody has accepted it. Obviously, as a starter you don't want to come out after four innings, but at this point in the year, it's about winning a game."

Homecoming for Rockies GM

When the Rockies played the first game of Jeff Bridich's tenure as GM in Milwaukee, he slept in his boyhood bedroom in the northern suburb of Whitefish Bay. This week, as the Rockies battle the Brewers in the first two games of the NLDS, their team bus takes Wisconsin Ave. to Miller Park, passing by the fields where Bridich starred in baseball and football at Marquette High School.

It's another homecoming for a kid who grew up rooting for Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and Jim Gantner.

"I really idolized Paul Molitor. That was my guy," said Bridich, 41, who admits being starstruck when he met Molitor at the Winter Meetings, even though Bridich was already a big league GM. "Some of it was just how I was raised. We were serious, blue collar, hard work. Mollie kind of fit that to a T. He was so consistent, so workmanlike, so good. Robin had a little bit more flash, a little bit more pizzaz. Molitor was more my personality."

Among those who followed Bridich in high school was Jerry Augustine, the former Brewers left-hander who coached at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee at the time. Bridich went to Harvard instead, where he played four seasons as a catcher and outfielder.

"By college, the writing was on the wall" that his future was in a front office, Bridich said. He worked in the Commissioner's Office for parts of four years before getting a job in the Rockies' player development department. They made him baseball's youngest GM in October 2014, a year before the Brewers' David Stearns, at 30 years old, took over that title.

His parents, Rick and Mardi, attended Game 1 with friends and family. They were part of the pockets of purple at Miller Park.

"It's always nice being home," Bridich said.