In the middle of the 8th inning on Friday, as the fans at Miller Park brayed invective at Manny Machado and flapped yellow towels to celebrate an impending 7-2 Brewers victory in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, an act occurred which could cost the Dodgers the pennant: A reliever sat down.
A night off for a relief pitcher rarely has long-ranging consequences. But Josh Hader, Milwaukee’s left-handed All-Star, is far from an ordinary reliever. He is a multi-inning demon, a pitcher who had logged three innings in Game 1, made a pair of scoreless appearances afterward and nearly struck out half the Dodgers he faced in the process.
When the Dodgers failed to stress reliever Corbin Burnes in the eighth, Hader ceased warming up. Granted three days of rest, his number will be called on Saturday, in Game 7 at Miller Park. Dumped into a first-inning hole by Hyun-Jin Ryu on Friday, the Dodgers could not stress the Milwaukee pitching staff enough to force Hader into the game. They could pay the price for their feeble hitting.