BULLPEN BAT­TLE

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS -

MIL­WAU­KEE (AP) — Build an early lead, get five good in­nings out of the starter and bring in the bullpen.

The Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers used that for­mula to win 11 straight games go­ing into the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries against the Los An­ge­les Dodgers.

Clay­ton Ker­shaw could be the ace that fi­nally puts a stop to the streak.

The three-time NL Cy Young Award win­ner will start for Los An­ge­les in Game 1 on Fri­day night at Miller Park.

“We know we’re not go­ing to get a ton of op­por­tu­ni­ties” against Ker­shaw and Dodgers start­ing pitch­ing, out­fielder Ryan Braun said. “So we’ve talked about the im­por­tance of cash­ing in on the op­por­tu­ni­ties we do get.”

Once the Brew­ers take a lead, they’re hard to beat. Good luck get­ting to their lights-out bullpen.

Mil­wau­kee’s 3.47 ERA in re­lief was sec­ond in the NL only to the Chicago Cubs. The bullpen went 2-0 with a save and a 1.17 ERA in the three-game Divi­sion Se­ries sweep Colorado.

Corey Knebel can come in as soon as the fifth, usu­ally lights-out left-han­der Josh Hader in just about sit­u­a­tion and Jeremy Jef­fress in the late in­nings. All three re­liev­ers are ca­pa­ble of clos­ing.

Knebel and Hader are mak­ing their post­sea­son de­buts, while Jef­fress’ play­off ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore this year was lim­ited to just one in­ning in 2016 with Texas.

“I thought it was go­ing to be a lot dif­fer­ent,” Knebel said Thurs­day of the play­offs. “The first time I came in, I felt the same sur­pris­ingly . ... Hey’s it’s just an­other game. That’s all it is. You just want to keep play­ing ball.”

The spot­light prob­a­bly won’t faze the Dodgers, who are in a third straight NLCS for the first time in fran­chise his­tory. The strat­egy at the plate doesn’t change, ei­ther, just be­cause Mil­wau­kee’s re­liev­ers are so good.

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