Brewers vs Dodgers: The Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers will meet to decide the National League pennant, with the NLCS beginning Friday at Miller This Friday night will kick off one of the most intriguing championship series matchups we’ve seen in a long time. Game 1 of the National
The National League Championship Series gives us a first-time playoff matchup, and several days off before the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers begin their battle.
The Brewers swept their first-round series, allowing only two runs to the Rockies in three games, and will have four days off before Game 1 on Friday at Miller Park in Milwaukee (8:09 p.m. ET, FS1). The Dodgers have three days off after dispatching the Braves in four games.
The Brewers have home field advantage after finishing with the best record in the National League (96-67), four games ahead of the Dodgers (92-71). The Dodgers won four of their seven regular-season meetings with the Brewers, including taking two of three in Milwaukee from July 20-22.
The Dodgers and Brewers have never met in the postseason. The Dodgers have played a Milwaukee team in a win-or-go-home setting once, facing the Milwaukee Braves in a best-of-three tiebreaker for the National League pennant in 1959. The Dodgers, then in their second season in Los Angeles, beat the Braves in two games to advance to the World Series.
Pitching was excellent for both teams in the NL Division Series. The Brewers held Colorado scoreless in 27 of their 28 innings, including two shutouts in their respective NLDS. The Dodgers started their NLDS with two shutouts, and posted a 2.06 ERA for the series.
Both the Brewers and Dodgers trailed in their respective divisions entering September, but each team finished strong. Milwaukee was an NL-best 20-7 down the stretch while the Dodgers had the second-best mark in the league at 19-9. Both needed tiebreakers to win their divisions, the first time in MLB history we had two separate tiebreakers in the same season.
Milwaukee enters the NLCS on a 11-game winning streak, while the Dodgers have won seven of their last eight.
The NLCS employs a 2-3-2 format, with the entire series televised by Fox or FS1, with Joe Buck and John Smoltz on the call, along with reporters Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci.
This Friday night will kick off one of the most intriguing championship series matchups we’ve seen in a long time. Game 1 of the National League Championship Series between the Los Angles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers will be a battle between two of the hottest teams in baseball right now.
Milwaukee is coming off an 11-game winning streak and Los Angeles has won their last seven of eight games, so Game 1 is going to be the chance for one of the two teams to keep their winning momentum going and jump out to an early lead in the series. It’ll be interesting to see if Milwaukee’s home field advantage in this series (best record in NL) can carry them past a powerful Dodgers offense. The Brewers will host the first two games of the NLCS at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Gio Gonzalez is taking the mound for Milwaukee in Game 1 after not pitching in the Brewers’ three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS. He was acquired on Aug. 31 from the Washington Nationals, and the Brewers have won all five of his starts. Gonzalez has not faced the Dodgers this season though. The decision is a bit of surprise since Jhoulys Chacin has been Milwaukee’s most consistent starter this season and was expected to get the nod for the series opener, but Gonzalez will be well rested.
After a dominant performance in Game 2 of the NLDS (8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 K), Clayton Kershaw will be the Los Angeles starter on six days of rest. Kershaw has started twice against the Brewers this season and experienced mixed results. He’s 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA and struck out 12 in 12 innings, and the Brewers lineup isn’t completely incapable of scoring off the left-hander as they managed four runs in a July 21 game in Milwaukee.
All we can ask of our league championship series is that the two best teams are involved, which is precisely the case with the National League Championship Series. The Milwaukee Brewers have won 11 in a row, tying the 1970 and ’71 Orioles for the most consecutive victories heading into a championship series. The Brewers are playing with joy, commitment and a tremendous bullpen as they attempt to reach the World Series for the first time since 1982, and win it for the first time ever.
They are playing the Los Angeles Dodgers, who perhaps have a few more good players, and are motivated to win their first World Series since 1988. This is a toss-up series. It is going seven.
Three reasons the Dodgers will win
1. Starting pitching. This is the clearest advantage in the series. The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, whose performance in Game 2 of the NL Division Series against Atlanta — eight scoreless innings, two hits, no walks — is just another reminder that any postseason doubts are behind him, and that he’s ready to be great.
Hyun-Jin Ryu was terrific in his Game 1 start of the NLDS and Walker Buehler has the best stuff on the staff. When Rich Hill doesn’t have to start until the fourth game of a series, that is a deep rotation.
In the meantime, the Brewers have no true ace — nothing really even close — but in the sweep in the NLDS against the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee’s starters threw a combined 12⅔ innings in three games, not allowing a run. The starters gave way to a brilliant Brewers pen, but the question is: A bullpen can sustain that kind of workload over three games, but can it over seven?
2. Power. The Brewers can hit the ball out of the ballpark, but no one in the NL does it better than the Dodgers. They hit more home runs than any Dodgers team in history, went 23 straight games with at least one homer (tying a team record) and had seven players with 20 or more homers. The Dodgers are relentless with that power; they can lead off with a dinger and have a No. 8 hitter who can go deep at any time. That great depth allows them, at times, to match up with the moves made in the Brewers’ bullpen.
3. The mix. The Dodgers are an interesting group of kids, veterans, holdovers and newcomers; indeed, in the clinching game of the division series against the Braves, all six Dodgers runs were driven in by players not on the Opening Day roster. Since then, they have acquired, among others, Manny Machado and Brian Dozier, who have never been to the World Series and are free agents after the season.
They also acquired David Freese, whose two-run single in Game 4 against Atlanta was another big postseason hit in his career. It seems as though they have so much for which to win: for all the guys who lost in Game 7 last year, for the final season of Chase Utley’s career, to keep Kershaw from even thinking about opting out of his contract, for making Machado even more interested in signing there long term and to guarantee a contract extension for manager Dave Roberts.
The Brewers aren’t just hot, they’re really good. That bullpen is spectacular: Its ERA since the start of September is 1.89, which is almost a run lower than that of any other team in that time. Manager Craig Counsell enters every game knowing that if he can get Joakim Soria, Corey Knebel, Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress into the game, he likely will win the last four innings. Plus, the Brewers, led by MVP-in-waiting Christian Yelich, can really score runs.
Their infield defense is also terrific, especially when Jonathan Schoop will play second base against left-handers Kershaw, Ryu and Hill. And it is time to acknowledge that the Counsell factor is real. He won two championship rings as a player and has a great touch and feel for his players, which is crucial today. He is a Milwaukee guy, and he’s trying to take the Brewers to the World Series for the first time since 1982. The players love him, and they play for him. That’s what managing, and connecting, is all about.