For just the second time in franchise history the Milwaukee Brewers are participants in the National League Championship Series.
The Brewers will be squaring off with the Dodgers, who are appearing in their third consecutive NLCS.
How they got here:
The Dodgers, like the Brewers, finished in a tie for the lead in their division. Los Angeles had to play in a Game 163 just like Milwaukee, and just like the Brewers, the Dodgers were victorious.
That victory set up a matchup in the NLDS with the Atlanta Braves in which the Dodgers won in four games.
The Brewers — after winning their own Game 163 over the Cubs — made quick work of the Colorado Rockies, sweeping them out of the NLDS in three games.
Christian Yelich is going to win the 2018 NL MVP Award, and that will come as a surprise to no one. His second half for the Brewers was historic as he was one of the biggest reasons as to why the Brewers were able to qualify for the playoffs and ultimately win the division.
In the NLDS Yelich was largely pitched around, although his Game 1 home run put the Brewers in front early before they knocked off the Rockies 3-2 in extra innings. Hs presence in the lineup is undeniable, but the Rockies clearly were not going to let him be the one to beat them night after night. That’s something that won’t be changing with the Dodgers.
Erik Kratz was the team’s MVP in the NLDS. Yes, that’s a real sentence just typed in the year 2018.
Kratz was fantastic in his first playoff series ever, Kratz went 5-for-8 with a double at the dish with a pair of runs batted in. For a playoff first timer, he stepped up and delivered more than anyone could have imagined.
On the flip side, the Dodgers didn’t exactly hit against the Braves, but they did crush eight home runs in the series. Trade deadline acquisition Manny Machado hit a pair of those as did Max Muncy. Los Angeles also drew an average of nearly seven (!!) walks per game against the Braves. Both of those are trends that cannot be counted on to continue against the Brewers.
There’s no question that the Milwaukee Brewers have a stellar bullpen. That’s been advertised everywhere one looks, and it was proven in Game 1 of the NLDS as they used nothing but relievers in the 3-2 extra inning win.
The starting pitching for the Brewers has been undervalued for much of the season, as well. Although if Gio Gonzalez was told on August 31 that he would be starting Game 1 of the NLCS, there’s no way he would have believed it.
The staff that the Brewers have to begin games as “initial out-getters” as manager Craig Counsell affectionately refers to them, isn’t as talented as the one that the Dodgers have.
Los Angeles will be sending out three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw for Game 1 on Friday night at Miller Park. Although he didn’t have the best year of his career, partly due to injury, he did still post a record of 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA. The left-hander hasn’t had terrific success throughout his career in the postseason, although he did pitch eight shutout innings of two-hit baseball in Game 2 of the NLDS. He will be followed by Hyun-Jin Ryu in Game 2 on Saturday. In his four career postseason starts Ryu has a 1.96 ERA and is coming off of seven scoreless innings against the Brazes.
Craig Counsell should win National League Manager of the Year for his efforts in guiding Milwaukee to the best record in the league. He’s a very deserving candidate without question. He has tons of postseason experience as a player, and now has never lost a playoff game as a manager, even though that’s an extremely small sample size through three games.
Los Angeles’ Dave Roberts is fresh off taking the Dodgers to their first World Series since 1988 last season and looking to do it again. After the team got off to a putrid start he’s got them playing their best baseball at the right time.
Schedule and Probables:
Game 1: Friday, Oct. 12, 7:09 p.m. CT, Miller Park
| Gio Gonzalez (10-11, 4.21 ERA) vs. Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 2.73 ERA)
Game 2: Saturday, Oct. 13, 3:09 p.m. CT, Miller Park
| Wade Miley (5-2, 2.57 ERA) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (7-3, 1.97 ERA)
Game 3: Monday, Oct. 15, 6:39 p.m. CT, Dodger Stadium
| Jhoulys Chacin (15-8, 3.50 ERA) vs. Walker Buehler (8-5, 2.62 ERA)
Game 4: Tuesday, Oct. 16, 8:09 p.m. CT, Dodger Stadium
| TBD vs. Rich Hill (11-5, 3.66 ERA)
Game 5*: Wednesday, Oct. 17, 4:05 p.m. CT, Dodger Stadium
| TBD vs. TBD
Game 6*: Friday, Oct. 19, 7:39 p.m. CT, Miller Park
| TBD vs. TBD
Game 7*: Saturday, Oct. 20, 8:09 p.m. CT, Miller Park
| TBD vs. TBD
*denotes if necessary
Zach Heilprin: Dodgers in 6
Joe Miller: Brewers in 7
Ebo Thoreson: Brewers in 6
Danny Cunningham: Dodgers in 6