The Brewers conclude the regular season without playing much against a potential Los Angeles Dodgers playoff opponent other than perhaps chasing a franchise record for one-season wins.
The Dodgers are now entering the streak with 103 wins this season but are faced with the very real possibility of playing in the dangerous NL Wild Card play-in game. Los Angeles is 2 games ahead of the San Francisco Giants with 3 games to play and will likely push to avoid that scenario with a game that could end their season prematurely.
The World Series defending champions have largely lived up to expectations this year, but San Francisco, which surprised everyone with one of the best seasons in the long history of the franchise, threw the Dodgers’ plans off the rails.
Despite Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger’s disappointing years this year, the LA offense has continued to hum due to its very good depth.
It’s not that Betts was bad – he cut .268 / .371 / .497 to 23 homers this year – but he wasn’t quite the MVP superstar he has been in years past. Bellinger, on the other hand, makes Christian Yelich’s struggles appear mild. This year it was rightly below the replacement level and this year only reached 0.162 / 0.238 / 0.301.
Luckily for them, they still have Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Will Smith, Corey Seager, AJ Pollock, and Trea Turner, which means they are still a relentless baseball killer machine.
Muncy leads the team with 36 homers, while he’s an annoying opponent with 82 walks in 141 games. Turner beats .278 / .363 / .469 with 26 home runs and 22 doubles this year after using the Brewers in his negotiations with the Dodgers last winter. Smith has become one of the better offensive catchers in baseball, and Pollock is one of the guys who feasted while other teams worry about the bigger names on the line-up. He beats .302 / .360 / .540 with 20 home runs and 27 doubles.
The probable pitchers
Friday, 9:10 p.m. CDT – Eric Lauer vs. Clayton Kershaw
Kershaw continued to develop his style as he got older and lost a few ticks on his fastball – averaging just 91 mph this year – but he’s still an elite pitcher starting at 33. While he now throws his slider more often than his fastball – 47% of the time compared to 37% on his fastball – he still misses a lot of clubs, ranked 87th. He has scored 143 strikeouts despite only having 120 innings so far this year has thrown in 21 starts and still carries a WHIP under 1.
Saturday, 8:10 p.m. CDT – Corbin Burnes vs. Julio Urias
Urias is another left-handed player who mainly has two fields of play – a fastball at 94 mph, which he throws 48% of the time, and a turn at 81 mph, which he throws 34% of the time. Like Kershaw, he’s great at getting opponents to hunt, with a chase rate just outside the top 10% of the league, while still allowing very few walks. If victories in the Cy Young race were another factor, Urias would likely get more support for the award – he has the chance of a 20-win season this weekend. He has an ERA of 3.01 and has struck out 188 over 179.1 innings so far this year.
Sunday, 2:10 p.m. CDT – TBD vs. TBD
This will likely be a bullpen day for both teams as they try to get into the playoffs healthy and the Dodgers are likely to save Max Scherzer for the NL play-in game against St. Louis and Adam Wainwright.
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs and Statcast