Dodgers vs Brewers: This Friday night will kick off one of the most intriguing championship series matchups we ve Brewers vs Dodgers seen in a long time. Game 1 of the National The Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers square off for the MLB pennant.
The biggest weakness on the Brewers is the rotation, but the bullpen is ridiculous and in the best shape it’s ever been (read more here as to why).
The two starters the Brewers are most likely to heavily lean on are Jhoulys Chacin and Wade Miley.
In Chacin’s last 11 regular season starts, he pitched to a 2.67 ERA. On short rest in Game 2 of the NLDS, he threw five scoreless innings while only allowing three hits (all singles).
Miley has simply become a different pitcher since discovering the cutter (more here on that from last month). He had a 2.57 ERA in 15 starts.
Also, Gio Gonzalez pitched well once he was acquired and the Dodgers — while it’s a far cry from what it was in 2016 — hit lefties worse than they do righties.
Expect Counsell to be creative with a bullpen day being possible and he’ll likely only try to get five innings, max, from his starters. What for aggressive and early hooks if there is trouble.
Dodgers offense is potent and dangerous
The Dodgers led the NL in runs and home runs. That was with only 103 games of Justin Turner and 66 of Manny Machado. Seven players hit at least 20 home runs. It’s nine if we include Machado (37 total) and Brian Dozier (21).
They are especially stellar at present. In September (including Oct. 1 with the tiebreaker), the Dodgers hit .274/.359/.490. A league-average line this season was .248/.318/.409. In four games against the Braves in the NLDS, the Dodgers didn’t hit for average, but they drew 27 walks, hit eight homers and averaged five runs scored per game.
Dodgers will be more starter-heavy with pitching
The Dodgers definitely have a weaker bridge from starter to closer (Kenley Jansen) than the Brewers (who don’t even technically have a closer so much as a stable of them). Where they make up for it is a superior rotation.
Clayton Kershaw is coming off perhaps his best career postseason start. And while he’s not the best pitcher in the world anymore, he’s a Hall of Famer with a 2.73 ERA in his age-30 season.
Hyun-Jin Ryu made only 15 starts this season, but he pitched to a 1.97 ERA and 1.01 WHIP with the best strikeout and lowest walk rates of his career. He looked like an ace in seven scoreless innings (4 H, 0 BB, 8 K) against the Braves in Game 1 of the NLDS, too.
Walker Buehler had a rough go of it in Game 3 of the NLDS, but that was really only one inning and we could actually say it was just two or three hitters in that inning. Overall, he’s had an excellent rookie season, one that would win him Rookie of the Year if there weren’t two historically-good position players 20 and younger. Buehler really kicked it in down the stretch. In his last 12 regular-season starts.
The Dodgers then need to get the ball to Jansen. Expect Pedro Baez, who had a good year, Kenta Maeda, Scott Alexander, Caleb Ferguson and Ryan Madson to get the most use. It’s not a great group, but it’s plenty capable.
Again, though, the rotation is good enough for us to see some seven-inning outings and that obviously limits the impact of the bullpen as a whole.
The following players came off the bench during the NLDS round for the Dodgers: David Freese, Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson, Max Muncy, Brian Dozier, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. The depth of the roster gives manager Dave Roberts so many options in platoon situations and with pinch hitting and/or double switching.
Likewise, Brewers manager Craig Counsell has good bench options. One of Shaw, Moustakas or Schoop starts every game on the bench. Domingo Santana hit 30 homers last season and hit .414/.469/.793 with five doubles and two homers in 32 pinch-hit appearances this season. Curtis Granderson had a .355 on-base percentage with 13 homers in 375 plate appearances against right handers this season. Hernan Perez is a good base-stealing threat off the bench and played every position except catcher this season. Keon Broxton is an excellent defensive outfielder for the late innings.
The Brewers ranked fifth in defensive efficiency (the percentage of balls in play converted to outs) in the majors while the Dodgers were ninth. The Brewers were second in defensive runs saved and the Dodgers were seventh. The Brewers do sacrifice some range when Shaw is at second base and they make too many errors, but overall they rate really well. Cain in center is amazing.
I know about the full-season record and how hot the Brewers are right now, but the Dodgers feel like they are obviously — even if it’s close — the better and more talented team. I also feel like the Brewers have something really special going on right now and absolutely can stand toe to toe with them. Let’s go with Brewers in seven, with Yelich hitting a walk-off bomb. Wouldn’t that be something?