Sports: NLCS Preview (2018)

by Enrique Gutierrez

The Milwaukee Brewers dominated the Colorado Rockies in a quick three-game sweep, clinching a spot in the NLCS to go against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who come off a four-game series victory against Atlanta Braves.

Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee continues their hot stretch as they bring the regular season momentum into the postseason with an 11-game win streak. After Milwaukee won the NL Central tiebreaker, they faced the Colorado Rockies in the Division Series. The Brewers swept the Rockies as they held Colorado to two runs in three games. Rocktober did not last for long as their offense stayed quiet. 

The Milwaukee Brewers have been a team that has been slept on for majority of the season due to the popularity of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. Milwaukee began their year acquiring outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, bolstering their offense. It wasn’t until the trade deadline when the Brewers became relevant once again. At the trade deadline, Milwaukee traded for second baseman Jonathan Schoop, starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, reliever Joakim Soria, and third baseman Mike Moustakas. The Brewers traded their prospects in 2018 to achieve their goal to be a contending team and potentially win the World Series. 

162 games later culminated with a Divisional Series win against the Colorado Rockies, with Milwaukee now moving onto play the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. Milwaukee and Los Angeles have announced the NLCS starters which go: Game 1- Gio Gonzalez vs Clayton Kershaw, Game 2 – Wade Miley vs Hyun-Jin Ryu, Game 3 – Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler. Rich Hill is expected to start Game 4 for the Dodgers, but Milwaukee has not yet decided on their starter.

A major strength for the Milwaukee Brewers has been their pitching staff. Brewers starting pitchers have been perfect thus far in the postseason, not allowing a single run. The Brewers bullpen has been lights out. With studs Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel, Milwaukee’s bullpen has been the best bullpen in the National League in 2018. The Brewers bullpen has been the most consistent throughout the major leagues.

Besides pitching, Milwaukee has been incredible offensively as they acquired many key bats in the 2018 season. One major key player has been outfielder Christian Yelich. Christian Yelich was traded from the Marlins and  now leads the NL in Batting Average, Slugging Percentage, and On-Base-Slugging. Yelich was just shy of winning the first triple crown trophy since Miguel Cabrera in 2012, and is a favorite for NL MVP honors this year.

Los Angeles Dodgers

It seems like the Dodgers have been playing October baseball in the month of September. The Dodgers were fighting for a NL West title against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies for the entire season. The NL West was a horse race until the final week, where Arizona fell off and Colorado stayed alive pushing towards a game 163 to decide who wins the west. LA won that game and won the NL West for the sixth consecutive year. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series. The Dodgers-Braves series was a four game series with the Dodgers relying heavily on the long ball. The Dodgers led the National League in homeruns and came in second overall in both leagues. Some key players of the series were Max Muncy, Manny Machado, and Justin Turner.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were expected to be the same team they were the year before. The Dodgers were one game off of winning the World Series against the Astros. 2018 was a rough start for the Dodgers as they lost Corey Seager for the entire year, Justin Turner injured for half of the season, and Clayton Kershaw being on and off the disabled list for majority of the season. The Dodgers fixed their issues during the trade deadline and traded for Shortstop Manny Machado, first baseman David Freese, and second baseman Brian Dozier.

The Los Angeles Dodgers pitching staff has excelled without their ace Clayton Kershaw for most of the year. Someone who has stepped up to the mound and stood out to his peers, Walker Buehler has been lights out since the All Star break in the regular season. In the month of September, Buehler held the best pitching stats in baseball concluding the year off right. 

In the Atalanta vs Dodger series, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw exceeded expectations. Both of them pitched outstanding and kept Atlanta shut out. The offense erupted in Los Angeles as the Dodgers scored most runs on homeruns. Some notable hitters of the series were Max Muncy, Manny Machado, Joc Pederson, and Justin Turner.

NLCS Matchups

162 games later and a Division Series win from Milwaukee and Los Angeles, they will compete in the National League Championship Series. Milwaukee and Los Angeles announced the NLCS starters which go: Game 1- Gio Gonzalez vs Clayton Kershaw, Game 2 – Wade Miley vs Hyun-Jin Ryu, Game 3 – Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler, and Game 4 Milwaukee has yet to decide and LA is having Rich Hill pitch. The Los Angeles Dodger starters are very left handed heavy compared to Milwaukee as they have much diversity in the starting rotation. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers batting order consist of many platoon players. Dave Roberts changes the lineup depending if there is a lefty or right handed pitcher playing that game. If there is a lefty on the mound, Roberts will stack a right handed lineup and if there is a righty on the mound, Roberts will stack a left handed lineup. 

The Milwaukee Brewers tend to have the same lineup no matter who the opposing pitcher is. Craig Counsell’s lineup consist of the same players day in and day out. Players that must be in the lineup are Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, and Jesus Aguilar. The three of these players had an outstanding 2018 and Counsell will keep them in as long as they’re performing well.

Predicted Results

This series will be a nailbiter and have the fans at the edge of their seats. The Dodgers offense hit many home runs and can produce when there are runners in scoring position. The Brewers have an amazing bullpen and a great lineup. What will lead these two teams to success would be scoring first and attacking the starters. Both of these teams are equally good and the series will most likely be extended to a Game 6 or Game 7. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers were just one win off of the World Series in 2017 and most of their roster remains in tact. Most of the Dodger roster knows how to play under stress and being in the heat of the moment. The Milwaukee Brewers surprised everyone this season by being a contender and winning the NL Central. Besides Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun, the Brewers roster lacks of playoff experience. With a shot at the winning the National League Championship and a World Series ticket, the Los Angeles Dodgers remain favorites to win and return the the big stage. 

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