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Just two days after I had counted the Brewers out, Milwaukee has come back with a fury, taking the first two games against the Cardinals. Meanwhile, the Cubs dropped the opener in Miami and now the lead is down to just two games. Granted, we're still in a good position as only five games remain on the year, but the past couple of days have gone exactly how the Brewers wanted it to go.
Now, with the division race getting closer and closer, the primary focus goes back to winning the division instead of trying to set things up for the postseason. With that having been said, Piniella announced before today's game that Steve Trachsel might not get the nod on Thursday. The veteran right-hander was tentatively scheduled as that game's starter, but there are other options.
AS IT STANDS:
As it stands, the rotation stacks up like that.
OPTION 1: Monday's off-day would allow Piniella to skip Trachsel by bringing back Hill and Zambrano on Thursday and Friday on regular rest, but that would force Lilly and Marquis to pitch the final two games on short rest.
OPTION 2: It's also possible that Lou takes a wait-and-see approach: throw Hill and Zambrano and then re-evaluate the situation for game 161. If we can build back a large enough lead by then, Steve Trachsel could get the nod in order to keep Lilly and Marquis at full strength for games 162 and 163. (Or even better: if we clinch by then, Lilly can be saved for the playoffs.)
(Notice that throwing Zambrano on Friday also lets him pitch in Game 1 of the playoffs on regular rest.)
The bottom line is that Steve Trachsel needs to pitch at least one game in order to prevent Lilly, Marquis (and possibly Hill) to all have to pitch on short rest. Saturday's game 161 seems like the ideal time, except for the fact that pitching Trachsel in a meaningful game that late in the season can be unsettling. But then again, aren't all games equally meaningful at this point?