NLCS Game 1 Preview, Dodgers vs Brewers: Time Start, Channel, Players To Watch
The Brewers have been in existence for 50 years and have never won the World Series. The Dodgers have been to the playoffs 32 times with 23 pennants and six World Series titles. This is a David vs Goliath type of series of mass proportions.
The Dodgers are playing their best baseball of the season, having won seven of their last eight games. But the biggest question facing L.A. is “Can they stop Milwaukee’s momentum?” Milwaukee comes into this series with an 11-game win streak, the longest ever for a team entering a league championship series (since 1969).
The sooner they stem Milwaukee’s momentum, the better for L.A.
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Milwaukee has been idle since Sunday after sweeping the Rockies, and all of their starters should be rested and ready to go.
After finishing with the best record in the National League, Milwaukee will also have home-field advantage for this series. Still, the advantage may not have an effect on the Dodgers, who have won four of their seven regular-season meetings with the Brewers this year, including two of three in Milwaukee.
While they were vague with their rotation in the NLDS, the Brewers announced their starting pitchers for the first three games of the series. It’ll be Gio Gonzalez on Friday, Wade Miley on Saturday and Jhoulys Chacín on Monday.
Although Gonzalez was one of the stronger pitchers in the rotation to end the regular season, he didn’t make a single appearance during the NLDS, which makes him a surprising choice to start Game 1. He has a 6.57 ERA over his last three postseason starts and a 2.13 ERA in his last five regular-season starts.
Chacin has been their best starter this season, leading the team with 35 starts and recording a 3.50 ERA.
No fourth starter was announced with this group, and it’s likely they will try to rely on their bullpen to pull them through this series.
The biggest weakness on the Brewers is the rotation, but the bullpen is ridiculous. Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress, Joakim Soria are averaging 3.47 ERA (5th-best), 3.57 FIP (4th-best), 18.1 K-BB% (4th-best) and a 46.8 GB% (3rd-best) for the team.
Potential NL MVP Outfielder Christian Yelich is one of the few “for sure” players in Craig Counsell’s lineup, along with fellow outfielders Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain as well as first baseman Jesus Aguilar.
Yelich, making his postseason debut, hit .250 with a homer and two RBIs with two steals in the NLDS. The smooth-hitting left-hander went on a tear in the second half, hitting .367 after the All-Star break with 25 homers to help lift the Brewers to the NL Central crown.
The Dodgers are heading into their third consecutive National League Championship Series with a power-packed lineup. Los Angeles started their NLDS with two shutouts and posted a 2.06 ERA for the series. The team batted .274 in September, tops in MLB. The squad hit just .210 against the Braves in the NLDS, but the NL’s top home run hitting team made up for it with eight dingers.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 2.73 ERA) will start game 1 for the Dodgers. Kershaw was 3-0 with a 3.89 ERA in September, but proved ready for the postseason after shutting down the Braves over eight innings in a win in the NLDS last week.
The world will be watching in suspense as Kershaw takes on Yelich, who has a great track record against him (9-for-17, 2 HRs, 1.497 OPS). Kershaw is renowned among hitters for pounding the strike zone and attacking hitters early in the count.
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.
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.
In September, 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.
It’s important to note that the Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988. This is their 12th trip to the playoffs since that championship and, again, their sixth straight appearance in the postseason.
This is the Brewers’ fifth playoff appearance in franchise history. There were none between 1982 and 2008. This is only their third time in a League Championship Series and second time on the NL side. The franchise has one pennant, but that was in the AL. The Brewers have never been to the World Series as the NL representative.
The game 1 of the National League Championship kicks off Friday at 8:09 p.m. EST and will air on FS1.
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