NLCS primer:

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - Ted Berg

Three keys to vic­tory and we pick a win­ner for Dodgers-Brew­ers. Does mo­men­tum mat­ter?

Three keys to vic­tory for the Brew­ers-Dodgers Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries:

1. Stay­ing hot: Both the Dodgers and Brew­ers en­ter the NLCS red-hot. Both fin­ished strong in Septem­ber, both won tiebreaker games to win their di­vi­sions out­right, and both­won their re­spec­tive NL Divi­sion Se­ries. One team will have to lose at some point, and if Game 1 mo­men­tum is re­ally de­ter­mined by the start­ing pitch­ers, Los An­ge­les ap­pears to have the edge with Clay­ton Ker­shaw lined up to open the se­ries.

2. Keep­ing the Brew­ers off the bases: If there’s a weak­ness to Mil­wau­kee’s of­fen­sive game, it’s that these Brew­ers got on base at a pedes­trian .323 clip in the reg­u­lar sea­son.

With plenty of power through­out the lineup — es­pe­cially in scorch­ing-hot No. 2 hit­ter Chris­tian Yelich — and enough speed to lead all NL teams in stolen bases this year, the Mil­wau­kee club will be primed to cash in with runs any time a run­ner reaches base. Dodgers catcher Yas­mani Gran­dal is merely aver­age at throw­ing out bases­teal­ers, and a cou­ple of L.A. pitch­ers — most no­tably closer Ken­ley Jansen — strug­gle to hold baserun­ners close.

But no team in the Na­tional League did a bet­ter job than the Dodgers of keep­ing op­po­nents off base dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son.

3. Hit the most homers: In a ma­jor league land­scape in­creas­ingly dom­i­nated by the long ball, the Dodgers and Brew­ers ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the Na­tional League, re­spec­tively, in home runs dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son. The Brew­ers’ power is mostly con­cen­trated in 30-plus homer slug­gers Yelich, Je­sus Aguilar and Travis Shaw, where the Dodgers have pop up and down the bat­ting or­der. The Dodgers will look to cap­i­tal­ize early, as Mil­wau­kee is far stronger in its bullpen than in its start­ing ro­ta­tion. The re­verse is true for the Dodgers, as Los An­ge­les en­ters the se­ries look­ing con­sid­er­ably weaker in their late-in­ning pitch­ing op­tions than their starters.


Though the Brew­ers fin­ished the reg­u­lar sea­son with the bet­ter record (96-67 to 92-71), the Dodgers’ depth and post­sea­son ex­pe­ri­ence give them the edge in the NLCS. With Ker­shaw com­ing off the best post­sea­son start of his ca­reer — an eight-in­ning score­less gem against the Braves in Game 2 — and HyunJin Ryu ex­tend­ing his dom­i­nant Septem­ber stretch into the post­sea­son, the Los An­ge­les ro­ta­tion will out­match Mil­wau­kee’s and make the dis­tinc­tion in bullpen strength a non-is­sue.

Dodgers in 6.


Dodgers start­ing pitcher Clay­ton Ker­shaw han­dled the Braves in the NLDS and likely will get the start in Game 1 of the NLCS.

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