MILWAUKEE, Wis. (WFRV) – For the fourth year in a row, Wisconsin native Craig Counsell has led the Brewers into the playoffs as their manager while also being a part of Milwaukee’s postseason runs in 2008 and 2011 as a player.
Counsell was also a key member of two World Series championship teams with the Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks, so when it comes to having experience on the biggest of baseball stages he has plenty of it, but he and David Stearns have also brought in a variety of free agents that have led the Brewers success this season.
“The players deserve a lot of credit for that. And that’s just the players welcoming new faces. Kind of the understanding that there are going to be new faces, that we need new faces to succeed if the group wants to succeed.” said Counsell. “And I think that’s in us. We know that has to happen. Whether it be a young player, untested player, a player kind of comes from out of nowhere or a veteran player. And we know it’s going to be that way. And I think that creates an atmosphere that I want this guy to succeed. And that’s very helpful.”
The Brewers had five All-Stars this year, and three of them were starting pitchers – which came as no surprise to Counsell.
“In spring training, we knew we had an elite group. And I think the challenge for them was to do it. And we had a couple of guys that were on their heels, and Adrian (Hauser) and Eric (Lauer) to like keep up,” said Counsell. “And that’s how we were going to be a really good baseball team. All five of those guys have absolutely done it. And they’ve kind of led the charge. Probably as much as anything, they’ve taken on that responsibility of ‘I want to be great.’ Because it’s not enough to just say that. You’ve got to live that. And they have. And that’s the most impressive part of it.”
Corbin Burnes (11-5, 2.43 ERA) will start Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Braves on Friday, with Brandon Woodruff (9-10, 2.56) getting the call for Game 2 on Saturday. Burnes led the NL in ERA this season with 234 strikeouts and just 34 walks in 167 innings of play, and in his only start against the Atlanta, he gave up five runs over four innings in a 9-5 Brewers victory.
Last year Burnes missed out on the playoffs with an oblique injury late in September, but this opportunity isn’t any more significant individually.
“I don’t think it makes it anymore special. For us to reach the postseason four years in a row is, I think, is the more special part. These guys have worked their butts off and have earned the right to be here and play in this game,” said Burnes. “I’m excited to be able to take the ball on Game 1 and go out there and see what I can do to help us get in the win column in Game 1. We’re at the point now where four years in a row, we’re getting used to this.”
The Brewers traded for Willy Adames at the end of May, and he’s provided a spark on the field and in the clubhouse. Adames is also one of the few guys on the roster that has been to a World Series, and he knows what it takes to make a lengthy run in the playoffs.
“I feel like the most important thing in the postseason is the pitching staff. If you have good pitching, you’re going to go as deep as you can. But I feel like that’s the main thing for our team to get to the World Series, because when you have a pitching staff like we have, I think you have the advantage, because when you have some guys like the starting pitchers we’ve got and the bullpen, for me that’s the most important thing,” said Adames. “I think that’s why we’re in a good spot here. And I think that’s why we have a pretty good chance to get there.”