Do the Dodgers have enough pitching?

It’s clear the Milwaukee Brewers are lacking quality starting pitching, aside from a great start from Wade Miley in game 2, but are the Dodgers in the same boat?

Coming in to the NLCS the talk has been about how the Brewers do not have the starting pitching to stand with the Dodgers and would be forced to lean on a stout bullpen, but through two games it has been the Brewers’ starters that have got the job done.

Clayton Kershaw continued his playoff woes in game one lasting only three innings and in game two Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu
By Keith Allison from Owings Mills, USA (Hyun-Jin Ryu) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
only went one and a third innings further. Yes, in game one the Brewers pulled their starter Gio Gonzalez quickly, but a great 5+ inning performance by Wade Miley surprised just about everyone. If Kershaw and Ryu were not able to handle the prolific offense of the Brewers who can?

Walker Buehler will take the mound in game three to try and turn the tide for Los Angeles starting pitchers, but will the young gun be ready for the big stage? If the Dodgers can not figure out how to get their starters through five or six innings it may shift the outcome of this series in the Brewers’ favor and through baseball for a loop.

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What did we learn in game 1 of the NLCS?

Last night the Brewers put the smack down on the Dodgers, well they did for seven innings. So, what did we learn?

First, we learned that Craig Counsell has no faith in Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez went two innings giving up just one hit and one run. It was a good outing, but he was on a shorter leash then my dog in a pack of female dogs in heat. You have to wonder what that does to Gio’s confidence the next time he starts a game and what the rest of the starting pitchers are thinking as they take the mound. I know it is trendy to buck the system and do things no one else is doing, but is the playoffs really the time to be experimenting?

Second, we learned that Clayton Kershaw still has his troubles in the playoffs. Kershaw is now 8-8 in the playoffs with a 4.26 ERA in 133.0 innings. That’s 2 points higher than his career ERA of 2.39. Many will say its an anomaly and to pay no attention, by many I mean Dodgers fans, but there is something real there. It can not be denied that Clayton is just not himself come playoff time. It could be because the quality of teams he is facing is that much better or it could be something more than that, but Kershaw is not as good in the postseason.

Finally, we learned that the Brewers can win without the 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich contributing. Yelich was one of only two starting position players not to get a hit. Even with Yelich having an off night, he usually owns Kershaw, his teammates were able to get the win. If Yelich can get back to regular season form he will add even more offense to their lineup giving the Brewers a real chance to do some damage to the Dodgers.

Dodgers vs Brewers in the NLCS

According to @OddsShark the Dodgers and Brewers are +350 to win the World Series, just behind the Astros at +260, but let’s be honest is anyone picking the Brewers to beat LA?

Let me be clear I am not a Dodgers fan, but clearly they are the horse to bet on in the NLCS. Los Angeles finished 2018 with an National League leading 3.38 team ERA lead by not Clayton Kershaw (2.73 ERA), but by Hyun-Jin Ryu (1.97 ERA over 82.1 IP). Oh and that guy Kershaw, may be the best pitcher we have ever seen, wasn’t even the team leader in wins. That honor falls to Rich Hill. Why then am I bringing up Kershaw in all this, because that just shows the depth of the Dodgers starting rotation. They will have to face the likes of Jhoulys Chacin, Wade Miley, Chase Anderson and a few other castoffs from other teams. Hands down the Dodgers have the better starting staff.

While the Brewers have the clear favorite for the NL MVP in Christian Yelich and a solid center fielder, though over-hyped coming out of Kansas City, in Lorenzo Cain I dare you to name the other seven starters. Go ahead, I can wait while you try. Times up. Milwaukee was second in the NL in home runs, behind the Dodgers. They finished seventh in average, LA was eighth, and sixth in OBP while their counterpart was third. Los Angeles is lead on offense by guys like Manny Machado, Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and Kemp, household names for fans of the MLB. Clearly the advantage in hitting swing to the Dodgers.

With all that being said the one category that the Brewers may dominate in over the Dodgers is heart. No statistic can measure heart, but you can see it on the field and for sure the Brewers have it. Unfortunately pitching, hitting and skill usually beat out heart in professional sports and the NLCS will be no different.

Don’t worry Braves fans, your future is bright

Before the 2018 season the Atlanta Braves were likely not on your list to make it to the MLB post-season. In 2017 the Braves had finished in the middle of their division with only 72 wins and 90 losses, clearly not impressive. Many pundits (guys who pretend they can predict the future, maybe I fit in that category as well) would have told you the 2018 Braves would be lucky to get to a .500. Buy were we, they, us wrong.

Ending the season with a 90-72 record the 2018 Atlanta Braves flipped they 2017 record and proved just how wrong we all could be about a team. With 90 wins they finished eight wins ahead of the Washington Nationals who were picked to win that division. It was a special season for this young team lead by old faithful Freddie Freeman.

076b8019_freddie_freeman
By Bruce Tuten on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Freddie Freeman was rejuvenated in 2018 having one of the best seasons of his career. He set career highs in hits and doubles, while playing 162 games. Freeman played in the most games since 2014 when he also played in 162.

Freeman wasn’t the only standout for the Braves as Mike Foltynewicz seemed to finally live up to his potential in his fifth year as a major league player. Foltynewicz was rewarded for his success by being named to his first all-star team. All of this while surpassing former phenom Julio Teheran as the ace of the the Braves’ staff.

Yes Freeman and Foltynewicz stood out and are names you probably knew already , but the main reason Braves nation should be excited about the future lies in the young bucks. I’m talking about Ozzie Albies (age 21), Dansby Swanson (age 24), Ronald Acuna (age 20) who lead the team in home runs and Sean Newcomb (age 25) who had 12 wins this season. These are the names of the future for the Atlanta Braves

So yes Braves fans you were eliminated from the playoffs tonight by Manny Machado and the Dodgers, but hold your head high and know that next year could be your year. Your future is bright and filled with rising stars.

NL Rookie of the Year

Corey Seager
By Arturo Pardavila III from Hoboken, NJ, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Congratulations to Corey Seager for winning the 2016 National League Rookie of the Year award. Seager was a standout for the Dodgers in 2016 and was hands down the top rookie for the NL. Many have even mentioned his name as a possible NL MVP. This young man has a bright future in Los Angeles where he will man shortstop for many years to come.