(Who should the Brewers start in centerfield for Game 4? Vote here.)
But with the duo hitting a combined 6 for 30 this postseason (.200), Brewers manager Ron Roenicke turned to veteran journeyman Mark Kotsay to provide some much-needed pop at the top of the lineup for Wednesday’s NLCS Game 3 in St. Louis.
The 35-year-old Kotsay delivered in that department, cranking a third-inning home run. But by that point the Cardinals had already put four runs on the board — all they would need in a 4-3 victory — at least one of which would not have crossed home plate had any of the team’s other two options been patrolling centerfield.
Now as the Brewers head into Thursday’s Game 4 with a 2-1 series deficit, you can bet Roenicke is thinking long and hard about who to slot into center — and whether offense or defense will take precedence.
“Gomez is going to catch it,” Roenicke said of the Jon Jay double that dropped in front of a diving Kotsay and produced St. Louis’ first run. “He is a great defensive centerfielder. But it was either Nyjer or Kotsay out there. It’s easy to say Gomez would have caught it, but I don’t think that was a good choice.”
So where does Roenicke turn tonight for Game 4? Does he go back to the well with Tony Plush — the mercurial fan-favorite whose game-winning single to send the Brewers through to the NLCS made everyone forget he was just 3 for 16 in the series? Does he go the defensive with Gomez — the guy with the .276 on-base percentage this season who only got four at-bats against the Diamondbacks? Or does Roenicke give Kotsay a chance to redeem himself?
Whatever the decision, the Brewers know they need pick up their production at the plate pronto and harness “Beast Mode” to avoid an early exit. Since piling up nine runs in a series opening win, the Brew Crew has managed only six runs on 14 hits in the two games since.
More National League Championship Series coverage from The Washington Post: