A lot can be said about Ron Roenicke's handling of the Brewers in the 2011 NLCS. I'm sure that much of it will key in on his stubborn decision to start Shaun Marcum in game 6 despite all signs pointing to that not working out very well. Some people will argue that it should have been Gallardo in this spot and that we could have just "figured it out" for game 7 and that is a good, popular argument. I am not here to make that argument.
Baseball is not a game of small sample sizes. Shaun Marcum should not be judged by his last two starts and Ron Roenicke had every reason to believe that the "real" Shaun Marcum would pitch in this game. Did I believe that myself? Absolutely not. I think Marcum has pitched too much this year and his arm has simply had enough. It's clear to me watching him that this is the case (the way he struggles, the way he avoids hitters), but nobody seems to want to acknowledge it. Or at least Ron Roenicke didn't. So much of being a baseball manager is "having faith in your guys" or some crap like that and in this case it screwed us, but Shaun Marcum starting this game is not what lost this game. (And no, it wasn't the defense either.) What lost us this game was this:
- Top of the third. 6-4 St. Louis.
- Narveson gives up a homerun to Pujols, obviously.
- Berkman's stupid face grounds out.
- Matt Holliday single.
- David Freese double. F this guy so hard, btw.
- Yadier (sweet neck tat, brah) Molina intentional walk.
- Punto sacrifice fly.
- LaTroy Hawkins enters the game.
I am not going to bore you with charts or WPA or whatever else, but let's be absolutely clear about this: THIS WAS THE GAME. To put it simply the Brewers scored six runs in this game and by the time the Cardinals scored number seven this game was over. Runs 8-12 did not matter. They sucked, but they did not matter. It was this and only this that decided this baseball game. It'd have been nice not to give up 4 in the first or another in the second, but that didn't kill us. This sequence did. It was the most important sequence of the game and Roenicke blew it.
After giving up two homeruns and the Freese double it should have been clear that Narveson was not fooling the Cardinals whatsoever and it was time to go to the bullpen. An intentional walk to Molina (which Roenicke has said many times before he doesn't believe in and should have been a clear sign of panic to anyone paying attention) led us to Nick Punto and Roenicke...... did nothing. He let Narveson face him in the biggest at-bat of the game (and the season) and he blew it. Hawkins then came in and gave up a single and it was bye bye Brewers forever.
Realize that I am the last person who ever wants to be an arm-chair manager. Ron Roenicke has his job in baseball for a reason and I lost my job at Costco for a reason. He knows more about baseball than me. He is a better baseball manager than me. He could probably kick my ass. That being said THIS IS THE BIGGEST AT BAT OF THE GAME AND YOU LET NARVESON PITCH? AND THEN IN THE NEXT BIGGEST AT-BAT OF THE GAME YOU GO TO LATROY HAWKINS? SERIOUSLY!?!?
Look, I know it's not "traditional" to use your closer and your set up man in the 3rd frickin' inning of a game, but when your season is on the line you do it. When you started a guy who gave up four runs and you can't afford to give up more, you do it. You do it every time. Narveson had no business entering this game when John Axford, K-Rod and Saito exist. Hawkins had no business being the next reliever when those three exist. Same with Loe. If the Brewers are in a situation where the season is on the line and they CAN'T GIVE UP ANOTHER RUN NO MATTER WHAT which they totally were then you don't go to Chris Narveson and LaTroy Hawkins. You go to John Axford and K-Rod. Every time. THAT'S WHAT THEY ARE THERE FOR! THAT'S WHY DOUG GAVE THEM TO YOU! SERIOUSLY WHO HAS TOOLS LIKE THAT AND DOESN'T USE THEM? WHY TRY TO SCREW A SCREW WITH A BUTTER KNIFE WHEN A DRILL IS RIGHT THERE!?
Seriously, screw you Roenicke. You ruined my life.