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Brewers, Dodgers look to close out Division Series sweeps

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The Brewers eked out one win and shut out the Rockies for another. The Dodgers have thoroughly dominated the Braves in two contests. Both Milwaukee and Los Angeles can close out their Division Series with a win today and guarantee themselves four full days off and a rotation reset before the NLCS kicks off on Friday.

Colorado and Atlanta will do what they can to stop that, but the odds favor sweeps in this instance and overwhelmingly favor a Dodgers-Brewers NLCS.

As Dayn Perry of CBS Sports noted the other day, between the old LCS format and the current Division Series format, there have been 78 best-of-five series that have started off with one team winning the first two games. On only 10 occasions has the team down 0-2 come back to win the series. Heck, the team down 0-2 has only come back to win even one game 32 times. Meaning that, historically, series like these have ended in sweeps 59% of the time and have ended with the team down 0-2 winning it 12.8% of the time.

Stranger things have happened. Just not very often. So: temper your expectations Rockies and Braves fans.

Your viewing guide:

NLDS Game 3

Brewers vs. Rockies
Ballpark: Coors Field
Time: 4:37 PM Eastern
TV: MLB Network
Pitchers: Wade Miley vs. German Marquez

Between the tiebreaker game against the Dodgers, the Wild Card game against the Cubs and the first two games of this series, the Rockies’ bats have been as quiet as church mice for a week. When you tune in today and see Wade Miley on the hill for Milwaukee, you may think that this is the game the Rockies will bust out their whuppin’ sticks. Don’t bet too much on that, because 2018 Wade Miley has been a different beast than the tomato can he had been for the past couple of seasons.

Miley began the season injured and then spent some more time on the DL after a couple of starts, but in 16 starts since coming back at full power he has posted a 2.57 ERA while cutting back dramatically on the walks that plagued him in Baltimore last year and so very often in his previous stops. He throws a cutter now, which he didn’t before, and it has reduced his reliance on the straight fastball which hitters sat on. It also helps that, due to his time on the disabled list in the first half, he’s a lot fresher right now than he’d normally be late in the season. Whether that’ll help him overcome Coors Field is unknown, but know that Miley has been an asset for Milwaukee even if he was a liability for his teams in the past.

Marquez, who started and lost Monday in the tiebreaker game, is pitching on an extra day’s rest and, that less-than-lovely start vs. the Dodgers notwithstanding, has pitched excellently down the stretch. In his past 13 starts, the tiebreaker game included, Marquez is 6-3 with a 2.25 ERA, 17 walks and 118 strikeouts in 88 innings while limiting opponents to a .204 average. The Rockies will need the stretch Marquez — and would really love to see the 2017 version of Miley — to extend their season.


NLDS Game 3

Dodgers vs. Braves
Ballpark: SunTrust Park
Time: 8:07 PM Eastern
TV: Fox Sports 1
Pitchers: Walker Buehler vs. Sean Newcomb

The Braves joined a super exclusive club on Friday night, becoming just the second team to get shut out in the first two games of a postseason series. The good news: the last club which had that happen to them, the 1921 Giants, went on to win that World Series. The bad news: it was a best-of-nine series, so they had way more of a margin for error. And let me tell you brother, I do not see High Pockets Kelly coming through that door.

On the mound for the Dodgers is Walker Buehler, who had a 2.03 ERA in the second half, pitched shutout ball into the seventh on Monday in Game 163 against the Rockies and who beat the Braves when he faced them back in June when the Braves were scoring runs in buckets. Even if he has less-than-his best stuff, the Dodgers’ pen is rested as any postseason pen will ever be and, given that a victory would give them four days off, Dave Roberts has the luxury of using as many different arms as he wants to lock this one down and not have too worry too much about tomorrow.

The Braves changed up expectations by calling on Sean Newcomb rather than Kevin Gausman as many expected. Newcomb pitched two scoreless innings of relief in Game 1 and, back in late July took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Dodgers. Manager Brian Snitker said that Newcomb’s history against the Dodgers played into his decision to go with him in Game 3. That’s fine I guess — and it’s not like in picking Newcomb over Gausman is like sitting Sandy Koufax for Howie Reed in the 1965 World Series —  but I don’t know that a couple of appearances makes all that much of a difference.

Really, nothing will make much of a difference here other than the Braves’ bats waking up. If they don’t, they may as well have Howie Reed on the mound tonight. And he’s been dead for 34 years.

Bellinger, Puig power Game 7 win to send Dodgers to the World Series

Yasiel Puig
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The Dodgers are headed back to the World Series following a 5-1 win over the Brewers during Game 7 of the NLCS. Cody Bellinger delivered the go-ahead shot after taking Jhoulys Chacín deep in the second inning, and Yasiel Puig‘s three-run blast in the sixth helped bolster the Dodgers’ lead as they wrapped up their second consecutive NL pennant.

The Brewers looked dominant from the get-go. Jhoulys Chacín set down a scoreless first inning while Christian Yelich proved he was capable of harnessing the power that nearly won him the Triple Crown during the regular season. He smashed an 0-1 pitch from rookie right-hander Walker Buehler in the bottom of the first, sending it out to center field to mark his first home run since Game 1 of the NLDS.

It wasn’t long before the cracks began to show, however. Cody Bellinger returned with a two-run shot in the second inning, and another double from Puig signaled the end of Chacín’s outing. He used just six pitches to get through all three outs in the second, then handed the ball to southpaw Josh Hader to start the third. The lefty didn’t disappoint. After sitting out of Game 6, he pitched a flawless three innings to keep the Brewers on the Dodgers’ tail, issuing just one hit, one walk, and four strikeouts until he made his exit in the sixth.

Had the Brewers been able to rely on Hader for a longer outing, they might have chosen to do so. Instead, Xavier Cedeño and Jeremy Jeffress combined for a disastrous outing in the sixth, first with back-to-back singles from Max Muncy and Justin Turner, then with a three-RBI homer from Puig that allowed Los Angeles to pull ahead with a four-run lead.

The Dodgers did their fair share of shutting down the Brewers at the plate, too. In the bottom of the fifth, Milwaukee verged on a tie after Lorenzo Cain drove a two-out, line drive double into left field. Julio Urias replaced Walker as Yelich came back up to the plate, but any thought of a go-ahead homer was quickly shut down as Chris Taylor sprinted to make a jaw-dropping, over-the-shoulder catch at the warning track.

The bats settled down from the sixth inning on — neither the Dodgers nor the Brewers found an opening against Milwaukee’s Corey Knebel and Brandon Woodruff and L.A.’s Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw, respectively. Woodruff struck out the side in the eighth, while Jansen refused to allow a single batter to reach base in 1 1/3 innings of work. Things appeared to shift back in the Dodgers’ favor in the ninth, as Puig and Taylor collected a single and double and Woodruff loaded the bases after intentionally walking Matt Kemp to get to Enrique Hernández. That feeling was short-lived, though, as Woodruff decimated Hernández and Muncy in back-to-back strikeouts to cap the inning.

With a World Series berth on the line, not to mention the club’s 23rd NL pennant, the Dodgers weren’t taking any chances when the bottom of the ninth rolled around. Up 5-1 with three outs remaining, Clayton Kershaw stepped on the mound for the first time since his Game 5 win. He looked just as dominant in relief, retiring Shaw on a groundout, inducing a six-pitch strikeout from Jesús Aguilar, and effectively dashing the Brewers’ World Series hopes as Mike Moustakas struck out swinging for the third and final out of the game.

Game 1 of the World Series is set for Tuesday, October 23 at 8:09 PM EDT, when left-hander Chris Sale will take the mound for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Dodgers’ starter has yet to be formally announced. The Red Sox are currently looking for their ninth championship title, while the Dodgers are on the cusp of their seventh.