There is nothing I love more than scooping up big dog money payouts! That is what happened last night when we backed the Milwaukee Brewers against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game three of the National League Championship Series. The Dodgers were major -170 home favorites with rookie Walker Buehler on the mound, and it just didn’t add up to me. I was confident that Jhoulys Chacin could get deep into the game, something the Brewers needed after seeing their bullpen struggled through the first two games of this series, so I backed the Brew Crew took a shot at the jumbo payout.
And Chacin did not disappoint as he pitched five a third innings of shutout ball, allowing just three hits and striking out six. Buehler? He pitched well most of the night as expected, but the Dodgers left him in an inning or two too long as he gave up a run in the sixth and two in the seventh as the Brewers pulled away late.
With the win, the Brewers snatch back home field advantage from the Dodgers and are poised to head back to the World Series for the first time since 1982. But don’t count out the Dodgers just yet as they aren’t done fighting, and they still host the next two games at home, trying to keep the pressure on Milwaukee.
Starting for the Dodgers is Rich Hill (11-5 3.66 ERA), and for the Brewers, it is Gio Gonzalez (10-11 4.21 ERA). The Dodgers are -148 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 6:09 PM PST from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
I love what Gio Gonzalez has been able to do since the Brewers brought him over via a waiver wire trade just before the September 1st roster deadline. Gio went 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five September starts and was a big reason why the Brewers were able to catch the Chicago Cubs from behind and steal away the NL Central division title and the home-field advantage throughout the playoffs that came with it.
But when you look at how the Brewers used Gio, and really their entire pitching staff in the playoffs so far, you have to wonder just how long he will be in the game tonight. Gonzalez was pulled from game one against these Dodgers after just two innings pitched, even though he had allowed only one hit and had thrown just thirty-two pitches. The Brewers have limited all of their starters in the playoffs this year, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Gonzalez used as basically an opener in this game tonight, pitching an inning or two and then getting pulled.
Gonzalez is certainly capable of more, between his two teams this season, he has pitched into the sixth inning or later thirteen times. So, maybe the Brewers were keeping him limited in game one so they could get full use out of him here in game four? Really at this point, it is just speculation as to just how the Brewers will use Gio tonight.
We know what the Dodgers are expecting out of Rich Hill tonight. Hill is a veteran guy for LA and is used to going deep into games. If he pitches well, you can expect to see him out there in the sixth inning and beyond. Hill struggled to stay healthy this season, missing big chunks of the year, but once he got healthy for LA, he pitched well down the stretch. In September, Hill went a perfect 5-0 in five starts, all games the Dodgers needed to win to catch the Colorado Rockies for the NL West division lead.
Hill was one of the stars for the Dodgers last season as he helped carry them to the World Series. Between the NLCS and World Series last season, Hill sported a sub-two run ERA in three starts. In a must-win scenario like tonight, the Dodgers love having a 13-year veteran they can turn to that should give them stellar results. The Dodgers are hoping that Hill can repeat his two performances against Milwaukee earlier this season where he pitched a combined twelve innings and allowed just two earned runs.
This game is a tough one to handicap. We have no clue what to expect out of Gio Gonzalez. He could pitch two innings, he could pitch seven innings. And we don’t know how much urgency the Brewers will be playing with tonight as the win last night put them in a spot where they no longer “need” to win in LA. Thrown in the fact that the Dodgers are almost always over-priced, and they are again in this one, and you have a tough spot to find value.
But I just feel that with their backs against the wall tonight at home, we will see the best the Dodgers have to offer. Mental errors made the difference in game one of the series as they had four errors and last night more mental errors hurt them as they made a couple of bonehead moves that cost them runs. The biggest of which was a pass ball in the seventh inning that gave the Brewers a 2-0 lead and changed the entire landscape of the game.
I think the Dodgers will get their head’s straight in this one and find a way to win. The Brewers are badly in need of a rest day for their overworked bullpen, and if the Dodgers get out to an early lead, they may choose to rest up for the rest of the series rather than fight too hard to win this one. LA will be scratching and clawing for everything, and despite the fact that the number is inflated I have no choice but to back the boys in blue in this one. Give me the Los Angeles Dodgers as -148 home favorites in game four!