LOS ANGELES -- The Brewers still weren't ready on Monday afternoon to name their initial out-getter for tonight's Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, but manager Craig Counsell did have a starter in mind for Game 5: Lefty Wade Miley on short rest.
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The unique plan was true to form for the Brewers, who have shed the traditional notion of a postseason pitching rotation in favor of a more flexible deployment of pitchers based on matchups. That included using essentially an "opener" in Game 1, when Giovany Gonzalez pitched only two innings before a bullpen call, followed by Miley for 5 2/3 scoreless innings on 74 pitches in Game 2 on Saturday before Counsell again went to the 'pen. Gonzalez will start Game 4 tonight at Dodger Stadium, Counsell announced after the Brewers beat the Dodgers, 4-0, in Game 3 on Monday night.
"We're going to play [Monday's] game with everybody available, with the exception of Wade Miley, and then after the game we'll make a decision about what Game 4 looks like," Counsell said before Game 3. "I think Game 5 for us is looking like we're going to use Wade Miley on short rest. For me, it was a -pitch appearance. It's something we did with [Jhoulys] Chacin [when he started Game 2 of the NL Division Series on three days' rest]. He is capable of doing that."
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Miley was terrific in Game 2, holding the Dodgers to just one hit through five innings before Chris Taylor's two-out single in the sixth prompted a change, with Justin Turner on deck waiting to bat for the third time.
As he exited, Miley said, the thought of being ready for one of the games at Dodger Stadium crossed his mind.
"I told myself that. We didn't discuss it at all," he said. "But I told myself if I get a couple of days off, I would be ready to go again. This is what you live for. It's no fun to sit in the dugout and watch when you can get an opportunity to go out there and pitch."
It was Miley's third start against the Dodgers this season without allowing an earned run. In those games, he allowed one unearned run on six hits in 18 2/3 innings, including seven scoreless, two-hit innings at Dodger Stadium in a 1-0 Brewers win July 31.
It will be Miley's second career start on short rest. He pitched on three days' rest for the D-backs as a rookie on April 23, 2012, but the previous outing in that case was 1 2/3 innings of relief.
Old stomping grounds
Much has been made about Angelenos Ryan Braun, Mike Moustakas and Christian Yelich playing NLCS games in their hometown, but Brewers infielder Travis Shaw has Dodger Stadium ties of his own. He served as a batboy when his dad, former Major League reliever Jeff Shaw, pitched for the Dodgers from 1998-2001.
Jeff Shaw was an All-Star for the Dodgers in '01, but he never made the postseason. He told his son to enjoy it.
"When he tells that story, he played in the big leagues for 10 full years and he never made it in ..." Travis Shaw said. "I've been there two out of my three full years. And he basically said, 'Don't take it for granted because you never know, this could be the last run you ever get.'
"It's pretty special when you think about it, even playing here where we played, too, in the playoffs. It's kind of a cool experience."
Friends in low places
Counsell was kicking himself for forgetting to tell a good story when someone asked him Monday about his own Dodgers ties. The Marlins traded Counsell to Los Angeles midway through the 1999 season, but he was released the following spring and picked up by Arizona.
It wound up being a fortuitous move, since Counsell, thanks to his new and unconventional batting stance, played a significant role for the 2001 World Series champion D-backs.
Counsell credits country music star Garth Brooks.
Counsell remembers starting that spring 0-for-15 with the Dodgers, including a line drive caught by a diving Brooks, who was in camp with the Mets. The Dodgers released Counsell the next day.
"That's a true story," Counsell said on MLB Network's Intentional Talk at the 2017 Winter Meetings. "I thought I was getting it going, first hit of the spring. Crowd goes crazy, Garth Brooks made a diving catch. Released the next day."
It was with Arizona, on a back field, that Counsell found the strange batting stance, starting with his hands high over his head, for which he's remembered today.
But his Dodgers experience wasn't entirely forgettable.
"I spent four months here and played with some very talented players. I enjoyed playing here," Counsell said. "It was a fun place -- it's fun to put on the Dodger uniform. It was an honor, certainly, to put on the Dodger uniform. … I lived with Mark Grudzielanek, stayed with him in Manhattan Beach. It was a beautiful place to live. We left early and got home late, but in the meantime we had the beach in the morning, so it was worth it."