Here we are yet again—the Dodgers find themselves in the playoffs for the eighth straight time. Fans obviously at this point are not content with making it to the postseason, as most eyes are on a World Championship. The new Wild Card rule will make things more difficult and definitely will tense up the nerves.
The Dodgers didn’t know who’d face them until the final day of the regular season. About five or six teams were all in contention for that eighth spot. I personally was hoping for the Giants, as it would have been the first time the two would have had a playoff series.
But, when Sunday was all said and done, it was the old friend Brewers—one of the first teams in major league history to make the postseason with a losing record. The Brewers snuck in with a 29-31 record, but only two wins for them this week could eliminate the 43-17 Dodgers.
The last time the Brewers faced the Dodgers in the playoffs was the 2018 NLCS, in what seems forever ago. The Dodgers defeated the Brewers in seven games, and it was a pretty fun series, indeed. Obviously, the two teams look different from 2018, as the Dodgers back then had Manny Machado and the Brewers rode the MVP season of Christian Yelich, who’s struggled this season only batting .202. Yelich’s numbers were a bit similar to Cody Bellinger, who’s average was .239. However, a great postseason for either one would help fans forget any part of the regular season.
The Dodgers have announced their first two starters, while the Brewers have not. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell may be up to his old tricks once again. Many of you might remember that Counsell pulled Wade Miley after one batter in Game 5 of the NLCS and went to the bullpen to Brandon Woodruff. Miley would then start Game 6.
The Brewers have two really good young pitchers out of the bullpen that will surely appear in this series—Josh Hader, who was off to a tremendous start this year, and Devin Williams who by many is among the Rookie of the Year favorites. Williams had a 0.33 ERA in 27 innings pitched and registered 53 strikeouts. He is one of the younger, exciting players to watch in this year’s postseason.
It is also cool to finally see the Dodgers matchup against a team outside the West Divisions this year. The Brewers’ division, the NL Central, had four teams make the playoffs, which has to be a record of some sort.
There isn’t a series perhaps where a Game 1 win could be important. If the Dodgers drop Game 1, we’re looking at an elimination game the next night with Clayton Kershaw pitching. I personally believe this format will stay for the upcoming season, but with the team with the winning record receiving a first-round bye of some sort.
Dodger manager Dave Roberts went with Walker Buehler for the series opener. Buehler struggled early in the season after showing up to camp late and also dealing with blister issues. However, Buehler still posted a 3.44 ERA and a WHIP of 0.95. Hitters only hit .178 off Buehler which is still great. Kershaw enjoyed a great bounce back season looking like vintage Kershaw at times. He posted a 2.16 ERA and a 6-2 record.
And, as we all know the Dodgers lineup is filled with depth, from top to bottom. Corey Seager, Mookie Betts and AJ Pollock all had great regular seasons. Depending on the matchup, the Dodgers have a plethora of capable players to use off the bench.
Overall, I think the Dodgers depth is just too much for the Brewers. Games in which the Dodgers are down seem to be longer for the oppostion, as they just wear you down with that deep lineup and great at bats.
My prediction is 2-0 Dodgers, along with at least one Betts homer in one of those two games.