I dropped my first pick of the postseason last night and it wasn’t close.
Chris Paddack couldn’t have really asked for a better matchup against a Cardinals offense that struggled with right-handers this season and were a bottom-two offense on the road.
Naturally, the Cardinals touched Paddack up for four first-inning runs and six total runs before he exited that one with his team down 6-2 after just 2.1 innings of work. It was ugly early and the runs kept coming in an eventual 7-4 Cardinals win.
Not a good start to our postseason, but let’s put that one behind us and focus on this MLB pick featuring the Brewers vs. Dodgers in Game 2 of the NL Wild Card series from Dodger Stadium!
Brewers vs. Dodgers Betting Odds
- Brewers (+202)
- Dodgers (-223)
- Brewers +1.5 (-110)
- Dodgers -1.5 (-110)
- Over 7.5 (-103)
- Under 7.5 (-117)
Brewers vs. Dodgers Wild Card Game 2 Pick Breakdown
It’s an early do-or-die situation for the Brewers and they get their ace on the mound looking to pitch his team into a decisive Game 3 on Friday.
Brandon Woodruff gets the nod in this one on the heels of a 2020 regular season in which he pitched to a 3.05 ERA across 13 starts and 73.2 innings while his 3.20 FIP and 3.29 xFIP certainly agree with the merits of that ERA figure.
Woodruff racked up punchouts at an impressive 11.12 K/9 clip on the season while limiting his walks to just 2.20 BB/9. His resulting 5.06 K/BB ratio was 10th-best in baseball this season and fifth among qualified National League starters.
Furthermore, he’s coming into these playoffs after having pitched the best game of his 2020 regular season in his final start. In said start, Woodruff hurled eight innings of shutout baseball while allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out 10.
Woodruff has pitched just 7.2 career innings against the Dodgers – and none this season – but allowed eight earned runs in that time to go along with three home runs. Current Dodgers hitters have combined to hit .364 with a monster .500 ISO and 1.304 OPS against Woodruff, but no current Dodger has a sample size in excess of four at-bats against him.
The Dodgers appear to be in good shape to wrap this series up tonight as future Hall of Fame left-hander Clayton Kershaw gets the nod in this elimination Game 2.
Kershaw returned to vintage form this season, turning in a 2.16 ERA in his 10 starts and 58.1 innings of work while racking up strikeouts at a 9.57 K/9 clip and limiting walks to just 1.23 BB/9. His recent home run issues – by his standards – remained as he allowed a 1.23 HR/9 clip that is well above his career 0.70 mark.
The question surrounding Kershaw this time of the year is weather he can put his previous postseason woes behind him. Kershaw pitched to a 7.11 ERA in 6.1 playoff innings last season and a 7.36 mark in 11 postseason frames in the 2018 playoffs.
All told, he owns a 4.43 ERA in his 158.1 career postseason innings to go along with a 1.37 HR/9 clip. He also owns a 3.88 FIP and 3.49 xFIP in that time as well, but those numbers still fall well below Kershaw’s regular-season work.
Kershaw worked to a 4.09 ERA in 11 innings against the Brewers in the 2018 NLCS but also owns a career 2.87 career regular-season ERA against the Brewers across 15 starts.
That said, current Brewers hitters have combined to hit .305 with an .856 OPS and .374 wOBA in their career against Kershaw in a combined 117 plate appearances.
They managed to score a pair of runs in four innings against the right-handed Walker Buehler last night, but the truth is this offense is far superior versus left-handed pitching.
While the Brewers have been one of the worst offenses in the league versus righties and strike out a ton against them, they are a borderline top-10 offense versus lefties.
They ranked 10th with a .330 wOBA on the season against left-handed pitching. While Kershaw certainly limits walks, the Brewers’ 12.6% walk rate off lefties was by far the top mark in baseball this season and their .345 OBP tied the New York Mets for fifth-best off lefties.
For good measure, they showed some nice pop off southpaws as well in the form of an 11th-ranked .177 ISO.
Every one of these numbers is miles better than their work against lefties.
As good as the Brewers have been against lefties, the Dodgers were one of the very best offenses in baseball against right-handed pitching this season.
Only the Braves posted a higher wOBA against righties than the Dodgers’ .355 mark while they tied both the Braves and Mets for the top wRC+ in baseball versus righties with a mark of 126.
They don’t strike out much at all and they hit for a ton of power off righties with an MLB-high .240 ISO against them this season.
Not only was the Dodgers’ offense patient, productive and powerful off righties, but as a team they ranked 12th with 29 regular-season stolen bases, so they are a threat when on base as well.
With multiple former MVPs in the lineup and a supporting cast that most teams dream of, the Dodgers’ are certainly going to make life difficult for the impressive right-handed Woodruff.
The most well-documented aspect of the Brewers’ bullpen at this point in time is the absence of right-hander Devin Williams who only posted a 0.33 ERA in his 27 innings of work this season with a ridiculous changeup that helped him achieve a monster 17.67 K/9 on the year.
With Williams out for at least this series with a shoulder issue, the onus is on the healthy relievers to pick up the slack.
The Brewers still have all-world closer Josh Hader at the back end of that bullpen – or in a high-leverage situation prior to the ninth inning – and they had a good showing in last night’s Game 1 loss, allowing just one run across 6.1 innings, walking one and striking out five.
The Brewers’ bullpen ranked first by a mile with an 11.97 K/9 on the season and 11th with a 4.17 ERA, but also seventh with a 3.80 FIP and first in all of baseball with a 3.76 xFIP.
Aside from Williams, names such as Freddy Peralta and Eric Yardley enjoyed nice seasons while Hader’s 21 appearances featured 17 scoreless outings.
The Brewers will need this group to stay productive in a big way if the upset is to be pulled off.
As good as the Brewers’ bullpen was, few were as good as that of the Dodgers.
The Dodgers’ bullpen worked to a second-ranked 2.74 ERA and 3.45 FIP on the season while their 2.57 BB/9 was the best in the business. All told, the Dodgers’ bullpen ranked second in the league with a 3.5 fWAR on the season.
From the veteran closer Kenley Jansen to the hard-throwing, nasty rookie Brusdar Graterol, the Dodgers had 16 different relievers put forth an ERA of 3.86 or better. Only two additional Dodgers posted an ERA worse than 3.86 this season. Jansen’s 3.33 ERA was actually one of the worst marks in the group.
Between Julio Urias, Blake Treinen and Jansen, the Dodgers’ bullpen pitched a shutout across five innings of work last night, walking one and striking out seven.
Brewers vs. Dodgers Wild Card Game 2 Pick
With Brandon Woodruff going in Game 2 and the Brewers’ offense facing a left-handed pitcher – albeit one of the greatest of all-time in the regular season – it appeared this game would be the Brewers’ best chance to at least send the series to a Game 3 should they drop Game 1.
You can’t discount that Dodgers offense against any right-handers, but few others in baseball put forth a better season than Woodruff.
With years of postseason demons lingering, we don’t quite know which playoff Kershaw will show up. He’s been better in the postseason at home, and while the Brewers roughed him up in an NLCS start in 2018, that outing came in Milwaukee.
Nonetheless, I think this game is a whole lot closer than the odds might suggest.
While I think there’s value on the Brewers on the moneyline, let’s but a run and a half and get the Brewers +1.5 on the run line in this one with an upset not out of the question.