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Dodgers Dugout: And now, the NLCS

Dodgers Dugout: And now, the NLCS
Justin Turner (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and this should be a great NLCS.

The NLCS

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If, when the season started, you asked baseball fans who would be in the NLCS, I doubt many would have said the Brewers and Dodgers, but here we are.

The Milwaukee Brewers are a very good team. They had the best record in the National League and are led by Christian Yelich, the favorite to win NL MVP. He hit .326/.402/.598 with 34 doubles and 36 homers. He led the NL in batting average and was two homers and one RBI shy of the Triple Crown. Yelich is a local guy, born in Thousand Oaks and attended Westlake High.

You know who else is on the Brewers (though there is a slight chance he will not make the NLCS roster)? Curtis Granderson. The same Curtis Granderson who was just brutally bad with the Dodgers last season, hitting .161/.288/.366 for L.A. after they acquired him around the trade deadline from the New York Mets for Jacob Rhame (who has a 6.53 ERA with the Mets) on Aug. 19. He followed that up by going 1 for 15 with eight strikeouts in the postseason before the Dodgers wised up and left him off the World Series roster.

He wasn’t quite as bad for Milwaukee this season, hitting .220/.407/.439 after they acquired him from Toronto on Aug. 31 for Demi Orimoloye. He went 0 for 2 in Milwaukee’s NLDS win over Colorado.

By all accounts, Granderson is a great guy and his teammates love him. You can read more about him here.

So, how do the Brewers and Dodgers match up? Let’s look at some numbers.

Runs per game

Dodgers, 4.93

Brewers, 4.63

Batting average

Brewers, .252

Dodgers, .250

OB%

Dodgers, .333

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Brewers, .323

SLG%

Dodgers, .442

Brewers, .424

Home runs

Dodgers, 235

Brewers, 218

Stolen bases

Brewers, 124

Dodgers, 75

Batting with runners in scoring position

Dodgers, .253

Brewers, .246

With runners in scoring position and two out

Brewers, .250

Dodgers, .199

ERA

Dodgers, 3.38

Brewers, 3.73

FIP

Dodgers, 3.60

Brewers, 4.01

WHIP

Dodgers, 1.152

Brewers, 1.240

Starters’ ERA

Dodgers, 3.18

Brewers, 3.92

Bullpen ERA

Brewers, 3.47

Dodgers, 3.73

Reliever inherited-runners scored %

Dodgers, 24.2%

Brewers, 32.1%

The Dodgers have a statistical edge in a majority of categories. Unfortunately, that’s not how they determine who will win. They actually have to play the games.

Milwaukee will not hesitate to go to the bullpen early if a starter even hints at struggling. The Dodgers would like to get to the starter as soon as possible, because the Brewers’ main pitching strength is their bullpen.

We all know by now the Dodgers’ strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be surprised if they leave runners in scoring position and swing for the fences all the time. Except for Justin Turner, that’s what this team does. That’s what most teams do. Don’t expect a lot of bunts. No teams bunt anymore. So don’t get mad when those things don’t happen. It’s not a surprise, you’ll just have to learn to expect it. The Dodgers will rely on pitching, power and defense to win.

I predict the series to go seven games with the Dodgers winning. They will play the Houston Astros in the World Series. I made that prediction on opening day, and I’m sticking with it.

Triple threat

In the first round, the Dodgers had to eliminate the Braves and their outdated, racist Tomahawk Chop. This round, they face Josh Hader and his racist tweets (oh, but he’s very sorry). And if they make it to the World Series, it could be a rematch with Yuli Gurriel and his racist gesture (oh, but he’s very sorry) toward Yu Darvish, and Roberto Osuna, who was suspended for 75 games this season for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. How can anyone not root for the Dodgers?

Give the devil his due

For a couple of years now, I have been railing against Pedro Baez, wondering why the Dodgers keep him. But something mystifying has been happening the last few weeks: Baez has been the best reliever on the staff.

Since Aug. 13, Baez has pitched 21.2 innings, giving up seven hits and six walks while striking out 22. He has an 0.42 ERA.

It’s only fair that I point that out after all the times I knocked him. Let’s hope he keeps it up.

NLCS schedule

Game 1 — Friday, 5 p.m.: Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 9-5, 2.73 ERA) at Milwaukee (TBA). TV: FS1

Game 2 — Saturday, 1 p.m.: Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 8-5, 2.62 ERA) at Milwaukee (TBA). TV: Fox.

Game 3 — Monday, 4:30 p.m.: Milwaukee (TBA) at Dodgers (Hyun-Jin Ryu, 7-3, 1.97 ERA). TV: FS1

Game 4 — Tuesday, 6 p.m.: Milwaukee (TBA) at Dodgers (TBA). TV: FS1

Game 5* — Wednesday, 2 p.m.: Milwaukee (TBA) at Dodgers (TBA). TV: FS1

Game 6* — Friday, Oct. 19, 5:30 p.m.: Dodgers (TBA) at Milwaukee (TBA). TV: FS1

Game 7* — Saturday, Oct. 20, 6 p.m.: Dodgers (TBA) at Milwaukee (TBA): TV: FS1

* — if necessary. All times Pacific.

And finally

The Dodgers win the 2017 NLCS. Watch it here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.

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