By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Oct 12, 2011 at 5:10 AM

The starting pitching has been awful. The offense has been inconsistent. The defense, at times, has been ugly.

But MLB Network analyst Dan Pleasc still thinks the Brewers are the team to beat in the National League Championship Series, which resumes tonight with Game 3 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

"You have to have a short memory," Plesac says of the Brewers, who are tied with the Cardinals, 1-1, in the best-of-seven series. "You look at the Brewers team and going into the last week of the regular season, there were some people, myself included, who thought that other than the Philadelphia Phillies, the Brewers had the deepest starting rotation in baseball."

Starting pitching has been a big problem for the Brewers in the playoffs. Aside from Yovani Gallardo, who starts tonight, and Zack Greinke, most of the starters' efforts have been largely forgettable.

Plesac, though, thinks there's time to turn things around. He still thinks the Brewers are in pretty good shape, despite being knocked around in the Cardinals in Game 2.

"I wouldn't be too worried," Plesac says. "I have a real good, gut feeling that this series is going to six or seven games and I still think the Brewers are the team to beat in this series."

He's followed the Brewers closely, not just because of his job, but also because of the seven seasons he spent wearing a Brewers uniform.

Plesac was the team's first-round draft choice in 1983 (26th overall), and during his time in Milwaukee, he compiled a 29-37 record and a 3.21 ERA – the best in team history with a minimum of 500 innings pitched. In 524.1 innings of work, he struck out 448 batters and walked 186. Today, he ranks first in franchise history with 133 saves and 365 appearances.

Aside from the on-field accomplishments, Plesac looks back at the lessons he learned while playing alongside Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. He admits that, as a rookie in 1986, he knew they were good, but didn't think of them as future Hall of Famers.

"Playing along side them, I learned a lot about how to play, how to behave, how to treat the game with respect," Plesac says. "I was very fortunate. I had no idea when I was playing there that I was going to be playing with two future Hall of Famers."

He was the closer on the famous "Team Streak" squad of 1987. During the Brewers' 13-game winning streak to open the season, Plesac recorded five saves and finished the year with a then-record 23 saves and made the first of three consecutive All-Star Game appearances that summer.

"We were picked to finsh near the bottom or last in the AL East to start out," Plesac says. "We had that magical start, 13-0, to open the year with Juan Nieves' no-hitter and Rob Deer's home run on Easter Sunday.

"We epitomized the ups and downs in baseball. If you were a fan of the Brewers, 1987 had to drive you nuts. We were 18-2 going into May, we were under .500 at the All-Star break and we end up going 91-71.

"We were either really good or really bad and we didn't even have any idea of when we were going to be really good or really bad."

Plesac says the crowds at Miller Park this season have reminded him of the crowds at County Stadium during that '87 season.

"When you think about, they have been so charged to root for something," Plesac says. "Let's face it, it had been rough sledding before they moved to the NL Central. Being in the AL East with the Yankees, the Red Sox, even the Blue Jays and the Orioles, that was a big boy division.

"This is a city, a state, that's passionate about their sports but all they're looking for is a fighting chance. They finally have that chance."

Plesac would remain in the closer role for three more years, giving way to Doug Henry in 1991. He spent one more year in Milwaukee, going 5-4 with a 2.96 ERA in 1992 before signing with the Cubs as a free agent that winter.

"You don't realize how good something is until you leave and go someplace else," Plesac says. "You always have visions that the grass is greener someplace else. I knew those first seven years of my career, in Milwaukee, were good. I had no idea how good they were later in my career."

After two years in Chicago, he played 11 more seasons in the majors, with stops in Pittsburgh, Toronto, Arizona and Philadelphia. His lone postseason appearance came in the 1999 National League Division Series with Arizona. In his lone appearance, Plesac allowed two runs on three hits in a third of an inning Game 3, a 9-2 loss to the New York Mets.

He finished his career with a 3.64 ERA and 158 career saves. His 1,064 appearances rank sixth in baseball history.

Twenty-five years after making his big league debut and 19 years after he said farewell, the city and the Brewers organization still hold a special place in Plesac's heart.

"My ties to the city of Milwaukee run really deep," Plesac says. "If somebody would ask me what organization I enjoyed the most, it was without a doubt the Milwaukee Brewers ... It's where I started, they gave me my opportunity."

Plesac began his broadcasting careerin Chicago, where he was a studio analyst for Comcast Sportsnet Chicago's coverage of the Cubs. Now with MLB Network, Plesac appears regularly on MLB Tonight, the off-season Hot Stove program and network special events.

"It's a lot of work but it's good work," Plesac says. "Keeping up with 30 teams, this time of year is when it's the most fun because you've gone through the regular season and teams have kind of carved their own niche so to speak and are fun to watch, the Brewers being one of those teams."