This flips the usual script a bit. Milwaukee won the opener of the best-of-five series, 4-1, on Saturday. Typically the team trailing in a postseason series might be the one to feel the need to step outside the conventional mode. But here, both circumstances and choice have determined that the Brewers will be trying something different.
The D-backs will go with their No. 2 starter, Daniel Hudson, a 16-game winner, in the second game. That's the way these things generally work. The Brewers will be going with their second starter, Zack Greinke, also a 16-game winner, but he will be working on three days' rest, for the second straight start.
If that looks like a gamble, the Brewers figure the larger gamble would have been not getting Greinke a start at Miller Park in this series. Greinke is 11-0 at Miller Park this season. He is one of the primary reasons that the Brewers compiled the Majors' best home record.
The Brewers would have liked to set up their rotation so that Greinke could have pitched Game 2 on normal rest. But they couldn't do that, because the D-backs battled them down to the last game of the regular season for home-field advantage in the NLDS. So the Brewers had to start Greinke in Game No. 162, and he needed to pitch six innings before victory seemed assured. Fortunately for the Brewers, he only threw 74 pitches, so they believed that they could go to him again for Game 2 of this series.
"I think that's what we would have wanted all along, if everything would have worked out the way we wanted it to," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "Setting up our starting rotation through those last few games when we felt we needed to win the games to have home-field advantage, but also of thinking how we're going to set it up in the playoffs in trying to work out both, and they didn't work out as well as we wanted to.
"But the last game that Zack pitched Wednesday, he pitched really to pitch again Sunday. ... So I felt good about him coming back and throwing it. He threw a bullpen [Friday], he threw real well. And I think with the 74 pitches that he threw in that game, I think it set it up good for him coming back and pitching."
Roenicke said that the larger concern he heard from Greinke was that if he didn't pitch in the regular-season finale, the layoff would be too long by the time of the Game 2 start.
Greinke is a completely willing volunteer for pitching on short rest for the second straight time. Asked Saturday if he was comfortable with this arrangement he responded:
"Plenty comfortable. I didn't throw that many pitches last time because we planned on it possibly happening. It doesn't matter when they pitch me, but I said I'd be ready, for sure."
Hudson, like Greinke, will be making his first postseason start. But Greinke, 27, is a Cy Young Award winner, while Hudson, 24, just completed his first full season in the Majors. Nobody doubts Hudson's stuff or the quality of his performance this season, but this can be a trying spot for a young pitcher, especially one who can get excited.
"I've said it countless times, I'm my own worst enemy on the mound," Hudson said Saturday.
"Daniel is Daniel," said D-backs manager Kirk Gibson. "He has high expectations. I think he wants to go out and shut everybody out every day. It's just who he is. He's always going to be like that to an extent. He actually does fine."
The opener of this series has already demonstrated the quality of pitching on both sides. Ian Kennedy had a fine start for Arizona, but Yovani Gallardo had a dominant start for Milwaukee. The Brewers got production out of their dynamic duo, Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder, and some significant defensive plays by Braun in left and Jerry Hairston Jr. at third base.
It was good, sound, closely contested October baseball. The Game 1 defeat would tend to put the pressure on the Diamondbacks. But the biggest Game 2 variable may be how Greinke responds to his second straight start on three days' rest. Upon pitching decisions such as this, teams' postseason results often turn.