Onward and Upward!

For six straight years, the Dodgers have been NL West Champs.  For three straight years they have won the NLDS and headed to the NLCS. From this point on, it’s really World Series or Bust, but this 2018 version of these Milwaukee Brewers are tough… and opportunistic.  While we are at it, let’s no forget that the Atlanta Braves, even though they just burst upon the scene, they were pretty good too.  They had a mix of rookies and vets who played hard and didn’t go away quietly.  They will likley be better next year, but now the Dodgers must handle the Brewers in a seven game series. The approach to a seven game series is different than a five game series.

The Dodgers had a 2.06 team ERA during the NLDS, but the Brewers team ERA was 0.64 for the same period.  I believe that the Dodgers can sustain an ERA under 3.00, after all they put up a 3.38 team ERA for the season.  The Brewers team ERA was 3.73 and while everyone says that the Brewers Bullpen is great, their Reliever ERA is 3.47 while the Dodgers is 3.72, but this Dodger team does not include Hudson, Cingrani, Rosscup, Garcia, Paraedes and Axford who all had ERA’s over 4.00.  So while Milwaukee is known for their pen, the disparity may not be as great as some think… especially if Kenley pitches like he did in Game 4.

Josh Hader is purely filthy but he has almost 85 IP and he’s going to have to pitch a lot more.  Jeffress is very good too, but in a best of seven series, the starters have to pitch a lot, and the Milwaukee starters have a 3.92 ERA compared to the Dodgers’ starters who have a 3.19 ERA.  By the way, the Dodgers ERA was barely behind Houston, for the MLB lead in starter ERA. The Astros had a 3.16 ERA, but the Dodgers WHIP was better.

The starting pitching is where there’s a big seperation:  The Dodgers can start Ryu (1.97 ERA), Kershaw (2.73 ERA), Buehler (2.62 ERA) and Hill (3.66 ERA), or maybe Urias if you believe the rumors, while the Brewers have Chacin (3.50) as their Ace… and he did pitch very well this year, but he would be a #4 on the Dodgers.  They also have Anderson (3.93 ERA). Guerra (4.09 ERA), Gonzalez (4.21 ERA), Suter (4.44 ERA), Peralta (4.25 ERA) and Miley (2.57 ERA in 80 IP). It’s not clear who will start beyond Chacin, who has really pitched way over his head (and I say that with alot of admiration). On paper, the Brewers can’t hold a candle to the Dodgers’ starting pitching.

Offensively, the teams are pretty close, but the Dodgers are demonstratably superior.

  • Team BA:  Dodgers .250 – Brewers .252
  • OB%:  Dodgers .333 – Brewers .323
  • OPS: Dodgers .774 – Brewers .747
  • Runs: Dodgers 804 – Brewers 754
  • HR: Dodgers 235 – Brewers 218
  • BB: Dodgers 647 – Brewers 537
  • Strikeouts: Dodgers 1436 – Brewers 1458
  • SB: Dodgers 75 – Brewers 124

However, they don’t play the game on paper.  Christian Yelich is likely the NL MVP and just missed winning the Triple Crown – he is one of the best hitters in baseball. LoCain had a career year.  It will be up to Yasmani to control the running game, as Cain, Yelich. Villar, Braun and Perez all had double digits in steals. Jesus Aguilar can punish a baseball (.274 BA/.352 OB%/.890 OPS/35 HR/108 RBI) as can Travis Shaw (32 HR).  Mike Moustakas has been a nice pickup for the Brewers and while Ryan Braun is near the end of his career, he still has good speed and can get a big hit.  Where the Dodgers really best the Brewers is on the bench – the Dodgers depth should make a big difference, but that’s why they play the game.

Another big difference is that the Brewers are the worst fielding team in the playoffs and the stats don’t tell the whole story.  Their infield is pretty magginal or below average.  That can become pretty big in a series like this.  The Rockies just laid down and played dead for the Brewers.  That won’t happen with the Dodgers.  The Brewers have home field advantage, but that may favor the Dodgers even more.  I could see Manny and others launching the ball outtta’ there.  It simply flies in Milwaukee.  I’m looking into tickets for Friday and Saturday.  I’ll be in Austin and San Antonio next week, but might make a run to Milwaukee this weekend.

Will there be any roster changes?  The only one that “might” occur is Ross Stripling replacing Alex Wood or Scott Alexander, but that would be one less lefty, so unless there is an injury, the roster will likely be the same.  Ryan Madson showed he belonged, in fact, he may see some higher-leverage situations later in the game.  Pedro Baez has been extremely good for a couple of months and Caleb Ferguson was again solid.  I know I saw 97 from him and maybe a 98! There’s a rumor floating around that Julio Urias might make the roster ands start game 4.  That would shock me, but he has shown he is healthy – is he ready to pitch 5 innings is all I wonder?  It would mean Wood or Alexader being off the roster and Hill going to the pen.  I really can’t see it….

There are many players on the roster FAZ acquired during this season, who had a big hand in this championship:  Machado, Dozier, Freese, Madson, Floro and technically, Max Muncy! That’s almost 25 of the roster that has been changed during this season.  I believe that 17 of the 25 players on the playoff roster were acquired by FAZ.

Department of Justice Investigation

Dodgerpatch posted the article from Fangraphs about a DOJ investigation which may involve the Dodgers. Allegedly the Dodgers compiled a “Corruption Chart” (for a lack of a better term) whereby they ranked certain employees by how corrupt they were.  During that same period of time, Friedman fired three international scouting employees, presumably because they made it to the top of the chart, namely Bob Engle, Patrick Guerrero and Franklin Tavaras.  However, the chart complied by someone affiliated with the Dodgers, had five individuals ranked as extremely corrupt and they only fired three. What about the other two?  Also, it’s not enough to fire them, but there’s a duty to report this conduct under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and it also boarders on RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act). These guys don’t play around!

However, it would be wise not to jump to any conclusions – we don’t really know how this all started… maybe Andrew Friedman or Stan Kasten reported it, but if they didn’t, the Dodgers could be in some deep trouble. Again, all that is really known is that there is a DOJ investigation… beyond that, we have to wait and see! This may not even be the biggest of the Dodgers problem as there is allegedly infighting among the owners and Guggenheim Partners.  I think that will rear it’s ugly head soon as well.  In the meantime, let’s enjoy this run!  It just might be epic!

Anything but a World Championship is a fail in my opinion. I think the team believes that as well!

Posted by Mark Timmons

We started LA Dodger Talk in 2001. This site is about giving another perspective outside of the average day-to-day reporting. We don't do game recaps or such things -- lots of sites do that well. I value sabermetrics, but don't think they are the "end-all-be-all.". This is where you should start your day as a Dodger Fan. Welcome! We'd like to hear your voice.

This article has 50 Comments

  1. Random thought: russell martin is due $20m next year and toronto is rebuilding. If they eat enough salary maybe a one-year job share/mentoring with barnes wouldnt be a bad idea . . . Otherwise we sign a free agent stopgap.

    1. Maybe $7 or $8 mil, but I have no idea if he would want to come back. He used to be my favorite player.

  2. Great win and every chance of beating The Brewers.
    However, I watched the Astros hammer the Indians yesterday, and obviously Boston are very strong. Winning a WS won’t be easy.
    Still, we can let them beat each other up. Hopefully that series will go 7 games.

    1. Remember, when we play in their park, we have Muncy as our DH. Muncy and Freese and Bellinger can all be in the lineup.

  3. The big difference between the two teams is clearly the starting pitching. In a 7 game series, it is very important to go as deep as a team can with the starting pitcher. The Brewers went into the NLDS with only 11 pitchers on the roster, and three starters (Chacin, Miley, Gonzalez). Only Chacin and Miley started, and Chacin went 5 and Miley went 4.2. Brandon Woodruff started Game 1 in a bullpen game. Gio was on the roster, but did not pitch.
    .
    I assume they will go with 12 pitchers in the NLCS. Will they bring back Chase Anderson as a starter, or add Xavier Cedeno or Dan Jennings in relief and start Junior Guerra?
    .
    The Brewers rely heavily on 5 relievers; Corey Knebel, Joakim Soria, Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress, and Josh Hader. Knebel (3.0 IP), Soria (2.2), Jeffress (3.1), and Hader (2.1) pitched in all three games, and Burnes (4.0) pitched in Game 1 and Game 3. Counting Brandon Woodruff who started Game 1 (3.0 IP), the Brewers utilized 6 relief pitchers who compiled 18.1 IP. In contrast, in their 4 games, the Dodgers utilized 8 relievers who compiled 10.1 IP. No pitcher appeared in more than 2 games, and Baez (2.1) and Jansen (2.0), were the only relievers to go 2.0 innings or more.
    .
    The Brewers do not have a rotation that can compare with Kershaw, Buehler, Ryu, and Hill. I would not switch Hill out. He started two games against Milwaukee, going 12 IP, 11 H, 3 R (2 earned), 5 BB, 13 K…both wins. Clayton Kershaw started twice and split them. He also pitched 12 innings, 12 H, 6 R (3 earned), 2 BB, and 12 K. Buehler started once against the Brewers in a 1-0 loss. Buehler went 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, and 7 K. Ryu did not pitch against the Brewers.
    .
    Ryu is a much better pitcher at Dodger Stadium than away, so I agree that Ryu should start Game 3. I would go Kershaw, Buehler, Ryu, Hill.
    .
    The Brewers offense is opportunistic. Their 2nd half surge was led by the insane 2nd half by Christian Yelich. But he has good complimentary pieces in Lorenzo Cain, Travis Shaw, Jesus Aguilar, Ryan Braun, Mike Moustakas, and Hernan Perez. And then there was their hero of the NLDS, journeyman catcher Erik Kratz.
    .
    Miley owned the Dodgers in his 1-0 win earlier this year. He went 7.0 shutout innings, allowing 2 hits, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Chacin has not fared very well against the Dodgers over the years. In his one start against LAD this year, Kershaw beat him 21-5. Chacin went 4.1 IP, 5 H, 9 R (8 earned), 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Gio did not pitch against he Dodgers in 2018, but he was very effective in 2015-2017. He started 3 games and got 3 wins, 20 IP, and 1.35 ERA.
    .
    The Brewers will be competitive, but I like the Dodgers in 5.

    1. Just sneak SVS into a uniform when Miley pitches and it’s game over. Maybe just having him throw out the first pitch and have a stare down at the end of the National Anthem would be enough to throw Miley off his game.

    2. Gio and Miley have given us trouble, but maybe having Freeze in the line up will make a bigger difference, this year.

      Because if I was the Brewers manager, I would definitely have both of these pitchers start against us, because our history against these two pitchers, has not always, been good.

      I saw Miley pitch, and he was never in trouble against the Rockies, it looked like the Brewers were just taking him out, before he faced the line up the third time through.

      And the Brewers won’t have the luxury of taking their starters out that soon, in a 7 game series.

      I think this series is going to be closer then many think, but I do believe we will come up on top in this series.

      Because there is no team in the National League, that has the quality of starting pitchers we have, in our rotation.

      The Brewer’s manager will have to try to do his best imitation of Tito with Hader, and use Hader like Tito did Andrew Miller, in 2015, to make up for the Brewers lack of a strong starting pitching, rotation.

    1. this was meant in response to AC’s post & prediction. i agree with him that starting pitching is the difference but milwaukee’s streak can’t be overlooked. they are playing GREAT ball right now and it will take a better performance from us to prevail. i think it’s pretty close to a toss-up so i’ll say LA in 7. not even thinking about a potential WS opponent.

      1. I prefer to think that they are due to cool down and the Rockies just rolled over for them. Their gig is up!

        1. yeah, i do think the rockies ran out of gas there at the end. still, that back end of the bullpen can be deadly. if we’re playing them even over the first 6 innings, we’re probably at a disadvantage the rest of the way.

  4. Watford – Keep the faith… One game at a time and let’s send the Brewers packing early… I like AC’s ‘5’…
    I’m going to be a drug riddled mess for the first 2 games as I’ll be going in for back surgery Friday at 2:00 PT… I’ll try and focus… I know I’ll be a happy camper till PT comes in the following morning
    Hell I’d love to see Urias start a game, but it’s probably not going to happen… I’m rooting for the kid to come out of ST as a member of the piching staff, reduced innings or not…
    P.S. I bet the TV folks are praying for a LAD-NYY W.S. I sure as hell will, as it will bring back some great memories..
    Brewers first… Go Blue..

    1. Peter

      I can feel for you, because I have had a back surgery, but that was quite a while ago, so your’s on Friday should be all good, and your recovery, should be even better.
      Take care!

    1. Verucci’s great, this article has some good nuggets, since it’s a free article:
      `
      So deep and powerful are the Dodgers that they had 108 home runs on their bench in Game 3–just 25 fewer than the entire Marlins team. They scored 70 percent of their runs in the series on home runs (14 of 20). They posted a .210 batting average, which is increasingly becoming a meaningless statistic.
      `
      The venerable “hitting with runners in scoring position” is overrated in the run prevention environment of today (strikeouts and shifts). The Dodgers and Brewers ranked seventh and 11th in the league in RISP.
      `
      The Brewers will try to handle them the same way they did Colorado: de-emphasize starting pitching length while putting a premium on matching up stuff against swings. Manager Craig Counsell will get Roberts to start one of his platoon lineups against his starter, then quickly bring in a reliever to test how soon Roberts flips his lineup, which would make it easier for Counsell to manage the endgame. Roberts will counter that approach with hybrid lineups and piecemeal rather than whole scale substitutions.

    2. i think our depth is limited at 25 men. players still have to produce when called upon. if teams used 40 man rosters we’d probably be favorites overall. but the point stands: guys like freese are incredibly valuable as bench pieces in a series. he already delivered once; we might need a couple more from him and from others as well. (part of me thinks freese was acquired just so we don’t need to watch bellinger flail hopelessly in a late-inning pressure spot.)

      1. Bluto

        Obviously in the long season, that stat is not over rated, or the Dodgers would have won more games!

        Run differential is obviously the stat that is over rated, like AC has suggested.

        And for that same reason, that is why Mark has said most of the season, that this team is more built for the post season, not necessarily for the long regular, season.

        And since any team can win in the post season, in a short series, it is still to early to assume anything, especially after beating a team, like the young Braves.

          1. Bluto

            The truth is, a team needs both.

            And the Astros are probably the team that does have both.

            But like you have always said, these short series, are like a shotput.

  5. MT- I once asked for a second opinion from a doctor and without flinching he said “You’re ugly too”!!!
    No respect..

  6. Milwaukee may be a blessing in disguise because Roberts can’t go with a strict platoon. I would expect to see this lineup against RH pitchers:

    1. Joc LF
    2. Turner 3B
    3. Muncy 1B
    4. Machado SS
    5. Bellinger CF
    6. Kemp RF
    7. Hernandez 2B
    8. Grandal C

    1. I think the Dodgers will be facing LHSP Miley and Gio in Games 1 & 2. Those are the two Brewers pitchers that have been hardest on the Dodgers. That would mean CT3 in for Joc, and Freese in for Muncy. Now the question will be does Belli stay in against LHP, or does CT3 go to CF and Kemp and Puig go to LF and RF. Or does Belli stay in CF and Kemp against LHP and Puig against RHP. Both Kemp and Puig have better splits against RHP, but Puig’s differential is much larger. Since both will play it makes sense that Kemp will go against LHP and Puig against RHP.

        1. LF–Taylor
          CF–Keekay
          3B–Turner
          SS-Machado
          RF–Kemp
          1B–Freese
          2B–Dozier
          C–Barnes

          what the hell

          1. … and then counsel will bring a RH P and you are screwed! If you run a strict platoon out there, you are handing them the series.

      1. I’d be tempted to play go Kemp, Taylor, Puig against Miley. Puig’s struggle against lefties has been his inability to hit a four-seam fastball against lefties. Someone like Miley should play more to his strengths. I’d leave Dozier on the bench to hit against lefties in a pinch hitting role. The Dodgers have also been running more since August 1st. Puig stole 15 bases in the regular season plus 2 or 3 three more in the Atlanta series. The Dodgers need to do whatever they can to get out to leads early against the Brewers.

        1. I don’t think Counsel can just pull his starting pitchers, in a short seven game series, so I think AC is right.

          Unless of course we are hitting one of their starting pitchers, well.

        2. Agree Hawkeye, I think the Brewers will quickly go to their ‘pen to try and get Roberts into burning his platoons.

    2. I like it. Except I like Grandal 7th so because he’s so slow I don’t want him getting tossed out after a sacrifice bunt. Also, if my memory is correct, he has always hit the Brewers well. Puig has to be in RF over Kemp though. He defense is too valuable.

      1. It depends on which platoon is doing better offensively.

        And I would assume it is the leftie hitters.

        And another factor will be what the Brewers best pitchers in their pen throw, leftie, or rightie, and who they are more effective, against.

        We have seen teams most of this year, choose to throw lefties at us, to face the rightie platoon hitters, over our the leftie platoon hitters.

        Why would this be any different?

        1. Also yesterday, Roberts didn’t go to his other platoon line up, after the Brave’s manager went to the pen, remember Joc faced a leftie yesterday.

          And Freeze came in the game, to pinch hit for a pitcher, not take the place of Muncy.

          And if the Brewers have good scouting, they will already know what Roberts did yesterday.

          So Roberts has not been as predictable as some think.

  7. god, we need to wait until friday for baseball . . . i admit i’m not really interested in the bos/nyy series. blame houston & milwaukee for sweeping i guess.

  8. The way we are playing right now, I don’t think it matters who the heck Roberts trots out there, these guys are HUNGRY, they are locked in and know what’s at stake. Kind of getting the feeling, especially that last game against the Braves, that the team, Roberts included, kicked into another gear. Most of the guys from last year are here, and have been carrying around the hurt from World Series all friggin season. Yeah, I know we all ragged on the Dodgers, myself included at times this season, but like Mark has always said, this team was built for the play-offs, and now I can see that. Alot of the dumbass at bats have gone away. FAZ did a great job of getting guys like Freese, Madsen, and of course Manny Moe, who seems to finally be locking in and becoming a boss. Aside from the occasional Puig brain fart, we look really, really focused. Unless I am totally wrong, this team is edgier than last years team. Instead of us worrying about the Brewers, they need to be looking over their shoulder, because we aint the one dimensional Rockies, or the other tomato cans they knocked over the last few weeks. This Dodger team, while frustrating at times, is extremely dangerous, both pitching and hitting wise. I could totally see us taking the first two, with Kershaw setting the tone and Striker being really cranky, which is not good for the Brewers. Careful what you wish for Milwaukee, the sleeping giant has awoke, and he aint all that happy.

  9. It appears to me some of the Dodger hitters are still chasing way too many pitches that are way out of the strike zone.

  10. I don’t think the AL is quite as mighty as credited. Well Houston looks scary, but New York and Boston don’t look as good as their records. Not on the whole. I think Dodgers pitching easily could stymie Red Sox. And they play at parks built for their batters.

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