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.