The Milwaukee Brewers have set their rotation for the first three games of their National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with left-hander Gio Gonzalez getting the nod for Game 1.
Gonzalez, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 30, will take the mound opposite Dodgers ace southpaw Clayton Kershaw in the series opener at Milwaukee on Friday.
"We like the matchup against their lineup," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said during a press conference when asked the reasoning for opening with Gonzalez. "It's no secret that we're going to use our pitching a little differently than traditionally then the traditionalists would like. And so for us, the first matchup that we liked was Gio on the mound.
"We're asking Gio to go out there and get a bunch of outs. How many? You know, we'll just see how it goes."
Gonzalez will be followed by left-hander Wade Miley in Game 2 on Saturday and right-hander Jhoulys Chacin in Game 3 in Los Angeles on Monday. The Dodgers will counter with left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu in Game 2, righty Walker Buehler in Game 3 and southpaw Rich Hill in Game 4 on Tuesday.
Milwaukee's decision to start left-handers in Games 1 and 2 is likely the result of the Dodgers hitting .240 against left-handed pitchers compared to .255 against righties this season. But Los Angeles addressed that issue with trades for right-handed bats in Manny Machado, Brian Dozier and David Freese and showed improvement against southpaws in the latter part of the season.
Gonzalez, 33, is winless in his previous six postseason starts, posting a 4.78 ERA. This season, he went 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five starts after the Brewers acquired him from the Washington Nationals on Aug. 31.
"I'm grateful I get to pitch another postseason game and with another team now," Gonzalez said during his Thursday press conference. "I was almost on my way home the end of September. So to sit here, and I'm pitching Game 1 of the (NLCS), I think it's pretty remarkable, pretty incredible."
Miley, 31, allowed just three hits in 4 2/3 scoreless innings for the Brewers in Game 3 of their NL Division Series against the Colorado Rockies. Chacin, 30, pitched five scoreless innings against Colorado in Game 2.
The Brewers utilized a bullpen-game plan in their Game 1 win over the Rockies.
(With inputs from agencies.)