Los Angeles Dodgers: Key decision points in Game Seven

MILWAUKEE, WI - Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers watches the awards ceremony in the clubhouse after winning the National League Championship Series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday, October 20, 2018. The Dodgers defeated the Brewers 5-1 in Game 7 of the NLCS. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers watches the awards ceremony in the clubhouse after winning the National League Championship Series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on Saturday, October 20, 2018. The Dodgers defeated the Brewers 5-1 in Game 7 of the NLCS. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

When Counsell removed Chacin for Hader starting the third, it also initiated a chain reaction of bullpen use. Eventually, Milwaukee would employ five relievers – Hader, Xavier Cedeno, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Brandon Woodruff.

The problem with that level of commitment to a bullpen lies in the potential for one of the five – and it only takes one – to have a bad night. For much of the post-season, that bad night has belonged to the Brewers’ closer, Jeffress. During the regular season, he had an 8-1 record, 15 saves and a 1.29 ERA. During post-season play, however, he had allowed four runs and 13 hits in eight innings of work.

In other words, by the middle of Saturday’s game 7, Counsell should have been expected to wonder which Jeffress he was summoning, the regular-season star or his post-season evil twin.

The post-season twin showed up, served up a single to Justin Turner and a three-run bomb to Yasiel Puig, and removed all further suspense from the outcome.

Jeffress’ failure illustrated the essential problem with reliever-based strategies, the unsupportable assumption that the guy you are bringing in will always perform up to the ability level you expect based on his season-long work. There is only one problem with this logic: the guy you’re bringing in is human.

Jeremy Jeffress had a great season, but a bad couple of weeks. Counsell’s failure to react to that changing dynamic may have cost his team a World Series spot.