With the Yankees being TKO’ed by the Red Sox, the slate is set. The Red Sox play the Astros while the Dodgers play the Brewers. Many Dodger fans didn’t think the Dodgers would be one of the last four teams standing…. but here they are! Think about this: The Dodgers are one of the TOP FOUR TEAMS IN BASEBALL! I think that the Dodgers will be one of the last two standing, but I am not smart enough to know if this series with the Brewers will got four, five, six or seven games. I tend to lean to SIX, but in the end, I think the Dodgers depth will win out wherever and whenever the series ends.
It used to be that you could compare lineups and decide who had the best player at each position, but with the Dodgers, who do you put where?
1B – Bellinger, Muncy or Freese?
2B – Dozier or Hernandez?
3B and SS are easy
LF – Pederson, Kemp or Taylor?
CF – Bellinger, Hernandez or Taylor?
RF – Puig, Hernandez or Kemp?
Here’s the Verdict
I take the Dodgers at every position… but whatever two OF positions Cain and Yelich are playing. The Dodgers take Catcher, 1B, 2B, SS and 3B as well, but it’s closer than you think. One of the biggest issues is defense, and Moustakas, Schoop, Aguilar, and Shaw are all inferior defenders, while the Dodgers infield defense is above average… no matter who plays where. Max Muncy has even been getting better at 1B incrementally to where I would rate him average to above average.
I Call Bull on the Pen
Of course, the Dodgers’ starting pitching is vastly better than Milwaukee’s, and while I know the Milwaukee bullpen is lauded, I really do not believe it is better than the Dodgers bullpen as it is now constructed… and the construction may change. Here’s a little known fact from Ken Gurnick:
“The Dodgers’ bullpen allowed fewer runs per game this year than the Brewers’ relief corps. Milwaukee relievers have allowed more inherited runs and a higher percentage of inherited runners to score than Los Angeles’ relievers. The Brewers have only a slight advantage over the Dodgers in save percentage (66 percent to 64 percent). Milwaukee had 49 saves and 25 blown saves, Los Angeles 48 and 27. When leading after eight innings, the Brewers were 84-3, the Dodgers 80-4.”
That kind of blows up the narrative that everyone has been expounding about the Milwaukee bullpen. Yes, they are good, but they don’t have seven Game Over Gagne’s! I think the Dodger pen will be just as good. The Brewers and Dodgers bullpens finished ranked #1 and #2 in ERA in September, so both units enter the series as a strength of each team. There are rumors that Julio Urias, Ross Stripling and/or Josh Fields may be on the NLCS Roster. Stripling was allegedly tipping his pitches after the All-Star Break, but has allegedly fixed that and Fields has been solid all year… when healthy. Urias could be a secret weapon, but how much can he pitch? I don’t think I would go that route, but I guess FAZ knows more about it than I do.
The final roster will be interesting. It’s possible Chase Utley could make the roster… at Dozier’s expense? Man, there are some hard decisions here. Of course, the Dodgers took the best of seven series with the Brewers this year, 4-3, but this is an all new series.
Arizona Fall League
The only three Dodger players to play were Jared Walker, Ben Holmes and Jordan Sheffield. Both pitchers fared well with Holmes starting the game and pitching three shutout innings and Sheffield pitching one shutout inning in relief. Walker was 1-3 and that hit was a home run! I have high hopes that Sheffield can soon be a “high-leverage reliever,” but Holmes being in the AFL was a mystery to me, however, FAZ may be onto something…. We shall see! Walker hit 25 home runs last year between Great Lakes and Rancho Cucamonga and he’s LH, so there’s that. He can play 1B, 2B and 3B, but 1B is likely his best position. That’s where he played yesterday.