Roenicke explains decision to start Marcum

Roenicke explains decision to start Marcum

Roenicke explains decision to start Marcum
MILWAUKEE -- It sounds like such a simple concept.

The Brewers are playing to win two games, and not just one, as they stare down elimination with the Cardinals holding a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series entering Sunday's Game 6 at Miller Park.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke certainly knows that, and it's why he says he's going with Shaun Marcum in Game 6 instead of ace Yovani Gallardo on short rest.

"Yo is not an option," Roenicke said. "You guys talk about Yo, and coming back on three days' rest. We have to win tomorrow and the next day. I don't know why I would bring back Yo to win tomorrow when it would hurt us then for the next day and not being able to win. I don't know if there's a difference there. I think it makes sense to keep Yo on his basic rest."

So as he sees it, even if Gallardo were to lead the Brewers to a Game 6 victory, Roenicke would have to scramble to decide on a Game 7 starter, as he would have to choose between Marcum on extra rest or Randy Wolf on short rest.

And as Roenicke pointed out, there's no guarantee Gallardo would thrive in such a circumstance, as he's never pitched on three days' rest, and didn't exactly shut down the Cards in Game 3 when he allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings to get saddled with the loss.

"He wasn't that sharp the other day, either," Roenicke said. "So to bring him back, if we had a chance if we were even up tomorrow, I would say, 'Yeah, Yo has a chance to be in our bullpen.' But unfortunately we're not in that position."

Instead, Milwaukee is letting its biggest game of the season hinge on the right arm of Marcum, who was one of the club's best pitchers during the season with a 3.54 ERA in 33 starts, but has scuffled in two postseason outings with a 12.46 ERA.

But Marcum, who has an 8.18 ERA over six outings dating back to the end of the regular season, said he's up for the challenge, and appreciated the fact the Roenicke is sticking with him in such a crucial game.

"I know they had a lot of confidence in me," Marcum said. "And just talking with Ron and [pitching coach] Rick [Kranitz], and even guys in the clubhouse, I think they felt that they're comfortable with me going out there, and it's nice to have that kind of support."

Veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins was one of those teammates to voice his stamp of approval, noting Marcum's impressive regular season is more indicative of his true talent than his recent struggles.

"We have confidence in him," Hawkins said. "He pitched his butt off all year. He's capable of going out there and throwing up some zeros and giving us a chance to win. People are acting like he's some bad pitcher. That's not the case. He's struggled, but that's part of the game. It's a bad time to struggle, but it's not like you choose when to struggle. He's got my vote."

Roenicke, however, is also aware he has a fully rested bullpen, as he didn't use top relievers Takashi Saito, Francisco Rodriguez or John Axford in Game 5, and there was an off-day Saturday.

So if Marcum runs into early trouble, Roenicke won't be afraid to use a quick hook, even though he wouldn't reveal his contingency plan on Saturday.

"We've mapped it out," said Roenicke, who only added that Gallardo will not be available out of the bullpen.

But Marcum is hoping Roenicke won't have to make that decision and will be able to hand the ball off to a capable bullpen to send the series to a seventh game featuring Gallardo and Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter on Monday.

"We've got to win tomorrow and try to force a Game 7, so all I'm really focused on right now is going out there and making pitches and try and get the ball to the bullpen," Marcum said. "If I can get the ball to Sammy, Frankie, John Axford with the lead, I think we're doing something right."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.