Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Goldschmidt's Granny Dooms Brewers in Game 3

If you've followed the Brewers this season, you probably know manager Ron Roenicke is not a huge fan of the intentional walk. Time and time again he has said it is something that he doesn't like to use.

It's pretty fitting that the Brewers matched up with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the NLDS. In fact, they are two very similar teams. They both hit their fair share of home runs. Both teams rely mainly on the strength of their top three pitchers. They also don't issue free passes.

In game one, Kirk Gibson was faced with a very interested scenario. After a two out double by Ryan Braun, Gibson watched as Prince Fielder walked to the plate. After taking the first pitch, Fielder deposited the next into the right field stands, giving the Brewers a 4-0 lead and basically solidified game one for the Brewers. Many argued Gibson should have walked Fielder to get to Weeks. That's just not their game.

The Brewers and Diamondbacks finished dead last in the league in intentional walks. Both teams finished the season with 16 IBB issued. Only the Boston Red Sox (11), had less this season.

Ron Roenicke was faced with a similar dilemma to Gibson's on Tuesday night. He decided to take a path he rarely travels and walk Miguel Montero to load the bases for Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt then followed with the first grand slam in Diamondbacks history. The dinger gave the Diamondbacks a 7-1 lead and basically game three.

So was Roenicke right in walking Montero?

According to fangraphs, the move slightly lowered the Brewers chances for victory, but I would argue this doesn't tell the whole story. Montero already hit two balls very solidly off Marcum and was one base hit from putting the D'Backs up three. Instead, the Diamondbacks were forced to rely on Paul Goldschmidt. While Goldschmidt has just as much, if not more power than Montero, he was less likely to deliver a hit. Goldschmidt struck out 29.9% of the time this season. He hit just .250, as opposed to Montero's .282. If I'm Roenicke in that situation, I try to avoid what beats you there. While a base hit might not deliver a knock out blow, it significantly puts the Brewers in trouble. In my opinion, Roenicke made the correct move.

It's pretty interesting that two teams who don't issue free bases have had to ponder it in two game changing situations. All said, you have to feel pretty good if you are a Brewers fan still one win from the NLCS.