MLB Postseason Preview: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Los Angeles Dodgersby John Lepore September 30, 2020 0 comments
The Los Angeles Dodgers will host the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 on Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET. It will be the last playoff series to begin and will feature The Dodgers who finished with the best record in the majors at 43-17. As the eighth seed, the Brewers finished below .500 at 29-31.
Three Keys to victory for the Milwaukee Brewers
Craig Counsell needs to work his matchup magic.
Losing Corbin Burnes is going to hurt, but Counsell has some arms at his disposal. Brandon Woodruff was very good this year and, aside from Burnes, was easily the best starter on the staff. He pitched a gem on Saturday and will likely not be available in Game 1. A mix of Josh Lindblom, Brett Anderson, and Adrian Houser may be the way Counsell goes. As for the bullpen, Josh Hader was unhittable at the beginning of the year but showed some chinks in the armor down the stretch. Then there is Devin Williams. He has been absolutely dealing. In August and September, Williams has thrown 23 2/3 innings. He has allowed six hits, seven walks and struck out 48 of the 84 batters he has faced. Did I mention his ERA is 0.00 in that time?
Paging Mr. Yelich.
After leading the National League in OPS the past two years, Christian Yelich turned into a near-average hitter this season. His 111 OPS+ is the lowest of his career. The Brewers are going to need him to get hot. He still has a great eye at the plate and can be dangerous on the bases, but the Brew Crew needs him to be more of a threat in the middle of that lineup. If not, they will wind up having to depend on…
While Gyorko is enjoying the best year of his career, he has been in a slump lately going just 4-29 with one HR in his last nine games. Vogelbach came over to the Brewers at the beginning of September and has been Milwaukee’s best hitter, slashing .328/.418/.569. The bottom line is that the Brewers need to find a way to score some runs. Again, Counsell will have to work some magic with platoons and pinch-hitting.
Three keys to victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw needs to exorcise his playoff demons.
The Dodgers lefty will be starting Game 2 and will need to be sharp. The future hall-of-famer will be in a position to either send his team to the next round or have them fight in a do-or-die Game 3. Kershaw pitched well this year in his 10 starts posting a 2.16 ERA with a 62/8 K/BB rate. With the shortened season, we may see him in midseason form for the playoffs. That is exactly what the Dodgers need.
The rest of the Dodgers staff needs to keep outperforming their numbers.
Walker Buehler, Dustin May, and Julio Urias all have ERAs well below their peripherals. May especially has been playing over his head. He has a 2.57 ERA despite a 4.62 FIP, 3.98 xFIP, and 4.29 SIERA. Urias stands at a 3.27 ERA despite a 3.72 FIP, 5.06 xFIP, and 4.88 SIERA. Game 1 starter Buehler is not quite as bad with a 3.44 ERA along with a 4.36 FIP, 3.93 xFIP, and 3.80 SIERA. These three also don’t miss bats as much as their peers combining for 131 strikeouts in 147 2/3 IP. The Dodgers have to hope that their staff doesn’t regress in the playoffs.
Don’t take any team for granted.
This comes down to Dave Roberts as well as the veterans on the Dodgers. On paper, Los Angeles dominated the NL and they finished 16 games better than their opponent. In a three-game series, anything can happen and each move is intensified. Roberts has to manage each game like it is Game 7 of the World Series. The Dodgers have been so close over the past few years. Now is not the time to assume anything is given.
While everything points to a cakewalk for the Dodgers after running away with the regular season, don’t be so sure. The Brewers are a scrappy bunch. If Yelich gets going and Counsell can ride Hader and Williams along with making the right moves with the rest of his squad, Milwaukee could pull the upset. The way 2020 has gone, would anything really surprise you at this point?
Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers 2, Los Angeles Dodgers 1
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images