The National League Championship Series shifts to Los Angeles as the teams split the first two games in Milwaukee and the Dodgers now have home field advantage the rest of the way out. Game two played out in dramatic fashion as the Brewers built an early 3-0 lead and looked to be coasting to a 2-0 series lead. Ryu, the starting pitcher for the Dodgers, lasted just four and a third innings, allowing two runs, both earned. Wade Miley for Milwaukee pitched great as he threw five and two-thirds innings of shutout baseball, giving up just two hits along the way.
It was as soon as the Brewers decided to pull Miley out of the game that things turned south for Milwaukee. For the second consecutive game in this series, this Brewers bullpen, that was the strength of their team for most of the regular season, pitched poorly. Corbin Burns came in and gave up two runs while recording just a single out, and he was followed up by Jim Jeffress who also gave up two runs in just one inning of work. And just like that, the lead that the Brewers had worked all game for was gone, and the Dodgers took a 4-3 heading into the ninth inning.
The Brewers threatened in the bottom of the ninth as they had MVP candidate Christian Yelich up with the tying man aboard, but they couldn’t score, and the Dodgers stole a huge game in Milwaukee. Now the teams head to Los Angeles, and it is the Brewers that now need an upset road victory to ensure this series makes it back to Milwaukee before it is all said and done.
Starting tonight for the Brewers is Jhoulys Chacin (15-8 3.50 ERA), and for the Dodgers, it is rookie Walker Buehler (8-5 2.62 ERA). The Dodgers are big -170 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 4:39 PM PST from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
What are the Milwaukee Brewers going to do about their bullpen that is suddenly struggling after being elite all season long? The Brewers strategy coming into this series was to get 4-5 innings from their starters and then turn things over to their bullpen to finish games out. After game one that saw the ‘pen nearly blow a 6-1 lead, I started waving a red flag saying maybe this wasn’t the best course of action. And now after game two where the Brewers bullpen did blow a lead, and they lost, you have to wonder what they are going to do in game three.
Luckily for Milwaukee, they gave a guy on the mound in Jhoulys Chacin that can get them six plus innings if they need him to. Before the Brewers started moving towards this heavy bullpen strategy in September, Chacin threw six or more innings in five straight August starts. On the season, Chacin pitched into the sixth inning or later nineteen times. So, if the Brewers need him to go out and fill some innings tonight, he is more than capable of doing so.
And when you look at how Chacin has pitched down the stretch here for Milwaukee, that might be just what the doctor ordered. The Brewers went with Chacin in game 163 to lock up the division title, and he pitched well. In that game, he pitched five and two-thirds of an inning and allowed just one run on only one hit.
The Brewers turned to Chacin again in the divisional series against the Colorado Rockies and once again he did not disappoint. Against Colorado, he threw five shutout innings and allowed just three hits. He was equally good in his last start of the regular season, a game the Brewers needed to win in order to force the one-game playoff against Chicago. In that game, he pitched five innings and gave up just one run against the St. Louis Cardinals. So, when the Brewers have needed a starter to actually start games and pitch well this season, Chacin has been the guy right there to take care of business.
Walker Buehler had a fantastic rookie campaign this year for the Dodgers. His 2.62 ERA was very strong, and he showed some flashes of greatness along the way. Like in game 163 for the Dodgers where he damn near threw a no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies. In that game, Buehler had a no-hitter going through six and two-thirds of an inning and left the game one batter later, allowing no runs and just one hit.
But Buehler’s playoff career didn’t start out all that hot as he got hammered by the Atlanta Braves for five runs in five innings of work and the Dodgers lost that game. To put that in a little more perspective, Buehler gave up five runs to the Braves in five innings, and in the other 31 innings of the series, the Braves scored just two runs total against the rest of the Dodger pitching staff. It was a bad night against a struggling team, to say the least.
The lines on the Dodgers are always bad. They are just wildly over-priced al the time. That is just the nature of being the west coast’s most popular team I guess. And once again this number is out of whack. Rookie Walker Buehler, who just got hammered in his first and only playoff start last week shouldn’t be a massive favorite against this Brewers team right now. That doesn’t mean the Dodgers shouldn’t be favorites in this one, they should be, but -170 is a major stretch.
Buehler was much better at home this year than he was on the road, completely understandable for a young guy. And I expect that he will likely pitch well tonight. But this series is extremely evenly matched, and to see one team as such a huge favorite just doesn’t make sense. Chacin has been light’s out when they need him to be, and I just don’t think he is going to go out and get beat up tonight.
I see this game going much like the last two games. Tight in the late innings that could go either way. So, when I see a coin flip type game like this one, I love backing the side getting all the juice. And that is just what I will do tonight. Give me the Milwaukee Brewers tonight as major road underdogs at +160!