The Dodgers and Brewers will kick off the 2018 National League Championship Series on Friday night at Miller Park in Milwaukee. This is the Dodger’s thirteenth league championship series appearance (74,77,78,81,83,85,88,2008,2009,2013,2016.2017) in franchise History. For the Brewers this will be their third (82, 2011) championship series appearance since their inception.
Since this is the first time the Dodgers and Brewers are meeting in the postseason, let’s get to know the Milwaukee Brewers a bit. As you know, the Brewers qualified for the postseason this year by finishing with a 96-67 record, defeating the Cubs in a tiebreaker for the NL Central title. This was the third division title for Milwaukee. The Brewers have only appeared in one World Series (1982) since moving to Milwaukee in 1970. The Brewers were originally the expansion Seattle Pilots, playing just one season there before making the move to Milwaukee before the 1970 season. The Dodgers won the regular season series over Milwaukee 4-3, outscoring the Brewers 48-25.
This season the Brewers made several moves that bolstered their roster. The big acquisitions were the trades for Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. Yelich nearly won the triple crown (.326/.402/.598) 36 home runs 110 RBI) and is having an MVP caliber season. Cain, their center fielder is also having an excellent season. Travis Shaw smacked 32 home runs and old but not forgotten Ryan Braun is still there. The veteran hit 20 home runs this season. Milwaukee also made a number of complimentary moves, such as the trades for Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley and Jhoulys Chacin. Josh Hader, their top reliever has struck out 15.8 batters per nine and has a 2.43 ERA while allowing just 4.0 hits per nine.
If we are looking at the numbers, the Brewers have a similar hitting club to the Dodgers. Like the Dodgers, the Brewers rely heavily on the home run. While the Dodgers hit 235 home runs to set a new franchise record, the Brewers finished fourth in MLB with 218 home runs. The Dodgers scored 804 runs (fifth in the majors) the Brewers were twelfth with 754 runs scored.
Both clubs have average batting and below average contact skills. The Dodgers were fourteenth in MLB batting .250 as a unit. The Brewers were twelfth, batting .252. The Dodgers struck out 1,436 times (finishing eighth) the Brewers struck out 1,458 times finishing seventh. While the Dodgers finished fifth in on-base percentage (.333) the Brewers were twelfth with a .323 OBP.
The Dodgers have a slight advantage here because of their superior plate discipline. The Dodgers led all of baseball by drawing 647 walks. The Brewers finished fifteenth with 537 free passes. The Brewers had 124 stolen bases to the Dodgers 75. It seems Milwaukee has an advantage on the base paths. The Dodgers have the edge in extra-base hits 564-494. In case you were wondering neither team is very good with runners in scoring position. The Dodgers batted .253/.349/.412 with a .760 OPS (good for thirteenth out of the thirty clubs) with runners in scoring position. The Brewers were 21 out of 30 with a .246/.337/.424 slash line and a .760 OPS. The Dodgers hit 43 home runs with RISP, and the Brewers smashed 52. Those are very similar numbers, so it would appear that neither team has the edge in this department.
On the pitching side the Dodgers have the better starters, while the Milwaukee bullpen is noticeably stronger. Overall the Dodgers pitching staff finished with the second best team ERA (3.38), but the Brewers were fifth with a 3.73 ERA. You can’t get this far without having great pitching.
Here is the difference between the two clubs. The Dodger starting rotation finished with the second best ERA in the majors at 3.19. The Brewers were eleventh with a 3.92 ERA. Of course the Milwaukee relievers were better. Milwaukee relievers were fifth (3.47 ERA), compared to the Dodgers who were eighth with a 3.72 ERA. The Dodger pitching staff limits opposing hitters to a .229 BAA with runners in scoring position. The Brewers hold opposing hitters to a .241 average against.
On the run prevention side the Dodgers committed 100 errors, while the Brewers made 141 gaffes in 2018. That may seem like a huge separation but when looking at defensive efficiency, the Brewers are slightly better. The Dodgers are tenth in that category with a .699 defensive efficiency ratio. The Brewers ranked fifth with a .706. Both teams were pretty equal in defending against the running game. The Dodgers allowed 69 stolen bases while throwing out 25 base runners. The Brewers allowed 70 and threw out 39. Both teams had 10 passed balls. The Brewers had 50 wild pitches to the Dodgers 39.