After playing four games against the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS, the Los Angeles Dodgers secured their third win Monday night to advance to the NLCS for a third consecutive season. The Dodgers have reached the playoffs every year since 2013, which gave them an edge over the Braves due to their experience in these big games. They continued to showcase their high-powered offense from their regular season play (hitting a franchise record 235 home runs, the second most in MLB this year) after hitting 8 home runs in four postseason games, which now ties the Dodgers with the Houston Astros for the most home runs hit in the Division Series.
Meanwhile the Milwaukee Brewers managed to clinch their spot in the Championship Series after a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies the day before, thanks to a blend of lights-out pitching and offensive power, as they scored a combined 13 runs while pitching back to back shut outs in Games 2 and 3 of the series. As both teams prepare for Friday nights’ Game 1 of the NLCS in Milwaukee, however, they both should expect a more challenging opposition than what they faced from the teams they just beat. After all, the Dodgers were second in runs-batted-in, scoring 19 runs while limiting the Braves to just 8 runs over four games – and just like the Brewers pitching staff, the Dodgers also pitched two shut outs, thanks to the strong starting pitching from Hyun Jin Ryu in Game 1 and ace Clayton Kershaw in Game 2.
Two late season acquisitions, SS Manny Machado and a pinch hitter David Freese were key to retaking and expanding their Game 4 lead against the Braves before ultimately winning 6-2 on the road. Now, as they move on to the next round to play the Brewers, the Dodgers won’t have home field advantage, but unlike their impressive streak of postseason appearances (6 consecutive division titles and four NLCS appearances in those six years), Friday night will be the first time since 2011 that the Milwaukee Brewers have advanced to the NLCS – and the first championship round ever for their big star, and arguably this years’ NL MVP, Christian Yelich.
When it comes to the lineups, both teams are deep in hitting and with benches possibly more talented than some other teams. In fact, the top five hitters in the NLDS were Brewers OF Ryan Braun (.385), 3B Mike Moustakas (.364), 2B/1B Travis Shaw (.364), Dodgers 3B Justin Turner (.357) and OF Yasiel Puig (.333). Although the Dodgers hit double the number of home runs compared to the Brewers, there’s no denying the power of this Brewers lineup that hit 218 home runs as a team during the regular season. Still, while the Milwaukee pitching staff was able to stifle the Colorado Rockies lineup twice in the NLDS and finish with the lowest ERA of any of the four National League teams, the Dodgers batting order will not be so easily held in check.
The powerful bats of Max Muncy, Justin Turner, and Manny Machado have collectively hit 4 home runs, collected 11 RBI’s and 8 scored runs between them. This is not to say that the Dodgers pitchers won’t face an equally formidable challenge against the Brew Crew. It is entirely possible that this series could go seven games before a National League Champion is crowned, but with the stage now set for Friday night these two star-studded teams will face off and play for the most prestigious opportunity in MLB – to win the pennant and move on to compete in the World Series.