With both NLDS series in the books, we are just one day away from the commencement of the NLCS between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Brewers enter their first NLCS since 2011 following a 3-0 series sweep over the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are in their second straight NLCS, hoping to make it back to back World Series appearances.
Both teams had a rather easy time dismantling their division series opponents. The Dodgers, while being the only team in the series to lose a game, managed to score 20 runs over the four game set. And while it may seem bleak that they took a loss in the series, outside of that game, the Dodgers pitching staff only allowed two runs.
24-year-old sophomore Walker Buehler was the only pitcher to start a loss in the series, giving up five earned runs in a tough second inning that included a bases loaded walk, and a grand slam. He was still sensational after that, giving up only two hits while striking out seven through five innings. If he can manage to limit the damage in his next start, then the Dodgers staff will be a force to be reckoned with.
The Dodgers offence is a different weapon in itself. Loaded with all stars like Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and recently acquired Manny Machado and Brian Dozier. The team is deep, and has no problem crushing baseballs when they have to. LA had eight homers in the four games they played in the NLDS, and two in the tiebreaker game against the Rockies.
The Brewers offence, however, is nothing to shake a stick at as well. With top tier talent including former MVP Ryan Braun, all stars Lorenzo Cain, Jesus Aguilar, Mike Moustakas, and NL MVP favorite Christian Yelich, this lineup boasts some incredible pop itself, hitting four homers in the three games against the Rockies. Both teams offences are comparable given they were #1 and #2 respectively among the NL home run leaders.
Their pitching staffs on the other hand is much less comparable. The Brewers don't have anywhere near the starting staff that the higher paid Dodgers do (shown prominently in the use of a bullpen game in game one of the NLDS.) The Brewers will hand the ball over to recently acquired Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez was picked up at the trade deadline from the Washington Nationals to add a little bit of depth to a rotation that clearly needed it. Gonzalez went 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five stars with the Brewers. He hasn't pitched since September 30th, and never saw the mound in the sweep of the Rockies.
Gonzalez's postseason numbers have not been good. The veteran lefty sports a 4.78 ERA through 26.1 playoff innings.
Although their rotation isn't very deep, the Brewers have one of the best bullpens in the postseason. In a series against the Colorado Rockies potent offence, the bullpen gave up only two runs all series over the course of 18.1 innings, all while striking out 25 batters and giving up only eight hits.
In game one of the series Milwaukee will send the aforementioned Chacin to the mound, while LA will counter with Ace Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw was fantastic in the previous series, going eight innings in his only start, while not allowing a run and giving up only two hits.
The Dodgers are expected to follow Kershaw with Buehler in game two, Hyun Jin Ryu in game three, and Rich Hill in game four. The Brewers, meanwhile, could start just about anyone at this point and not surprise anyone. Last series they used a bullpen game in game one, going with Brandon Woodruff for three innings. There's no reason they won't try that again given the success it had last round.
I don't see how the Brewers are going to be able to pull this one out. LA's offence is firing on all cylinders right now from their leadoff guy, all the way down to the last player on their bench. If you're going to trot out a rotation as weak as the Brewers, then I don't see how you can contain them. If the Brewers want to stand a chance in this series, they will have to rely very heavily on arms like Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, and Jeremy Jeffress to give them multiple innings.
The offences are almost a deadlock in my eyes. Both teams have tremendous bats up and down the order. The one game changer to me is the obvious choice in Christian Yelich. If Yelich can continue his miraculous season, then he and the Brewers bullpen may be able to single handedly steal this series away from LA. My guess, however, Is that we see a rematch of last years World Series.