Dodgers ready to take on Brew­ers’ lights-out bullpen

The Maui News - - SPORTS - By GENARO C. ARMAS The As­so­ci­ated Press

MILWAUKEE — 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 Na­tional League 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 to­day 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 of Colorado.

Corey Knebel can come in as soon as the fifth, left-han­der Josh Hader in just about any 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.”

Knebel, Hader and Jef­fress, along with righty Joakim So­ria, ap­peared in all three games against Colorado spread out over four days.

The NLCS is best-of-seven, with the first four games over five days, so bullpen us­age could dif­fer.

“When you’re talk­ing about a seven-game se­ries,” Dodgers man­ager Dave Roberts said, “hav­ing those guys go to their pen and tax­ing them and beat­ing the starter, there’s still a lot of value in that.”

Chas­ing the starter will re­quire build­ing an early lead that might re­quire the Brew­ers to dip into his bullpen ear­lier or more of­ten than planned.

“If they go bullpen game, like they did against the Rock­ies, it’s a seven-game set,” Dodgers in­fielder Max Muncy said. “It’s more games you’re putting stress on the bullpen.”

AP photo

Clay­ton Ker­shaw starts to­day for the Dodgers in the NLCS opener against the Brew­ers.

AP photo

Corey Knebel of the Milwaukee Brew­ers throws dur­ing the NLDS last week

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