Brewers vs Dodgers

Brewers vs Dodgers Game 1 – 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

Written by on September 30, 2020

The Los Angeles Dodgers had one of the most dominant regular seasons in MLB history and are favored to win their first World Series since 1988. The Dodgers are heavy favorites for the opener of their Wild-Card series on Wednesday vs. the No. 8 Milwaukee Brewers.

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Why Bet on Milwaukee? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

The Brewers finished the regular season 29-31, and across 60 games their opponents outscored them by 17 runs. That’s despite the fact that the Brewers ranked near the bottom of the league in strength of schedule. The Brewers’ offense was terrible — only their right-fielders hit better than league average for their position — but they still managed to score enough runs to make the playoffs.

Given the Brewers’ dubious quality, the strength of their first-round opponent, and the breadth of the 2020 postseason, Milwaukee is the longest of playoff longshots. MLB has had a losing team make the playoffs before. In 1981, when the season was shortened because of labor strife, playoff bids went to the winners of the first and second halves in each division.

Will the Brew Crew have DH Daniel Vogelbach for Game 1? Vogelbach tweaked something while running out a grounder in the ninth inning of Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Cardinals. The hope is that he will be able to play on Wednesday. The left-handed-hitting Vogelbach proved to be a tremendous early-September waiver claim for the Brewers, slashing .328/.418/.569 with four home runs and 12 RBI in 19 games down the stretch.

Catcher Manny Pina (knee) has been ruled out for the first round of the playoffs. Pina resumed light baseball activities last week, but he is still in rehab mode as he recovers from a late-August meniscus tear in his right knee. He might be ready for the next round if the Brewers pull the upset. Outfielder Ben Gamel was placed on the IL on September 20 with a quad strain but he is likely to be ready.

Corbin Burnes, the team’s top 2020 starter, succumbed to an oblique strain during his last outing of the season and is now on the injured list. The timing of Burnes’ injury made it impossible for the Brewers to set up their rotation in a traditional manner for the series. As a whole, the Brewers have the third-worst starter ERA of National League playoff teams, and they’ll have their hands full with the Dodger bats.

Manager Craig Counsell has yet to announce his Game 1 pitcher. It would have been Burnes if healthy.

“Our pitching plans have changed. We had it set up in early September for Corbin to get to the first day … and unfortunately, we had an injury. So, that’s going to change how we pitch. But we still have got guys that can do it,” Counsell said.

It could be a bullpen day — left-hander Brent Suter delivered three scoreless spot starts in September — or Josh Lindblom on a short leash, or even Brandon Woodruff on short rest. When they faced the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 2018 NL Championship Series, veteran lefty Gio González started and delivered two innings on 32 pitches, followed by Woodruff for two innings.

Why Bet on Los Angeles? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

The Dodgers are the favorites to win it all for the first time since 1988 as they played at a 116-win pace this season.  The “record” for most consecutive playoff appearances without a World Series title belongs to the Braves, who went to 10 straight playoffs (1996-2005) without winning it all. L.A. is in the playoffs for the eighth straight year.

Los Angeles scored the most runs in baseball this year, their hitters have the highest collective average exit velocities and barrel rate leading to the greatest collective ISO (they also have the lowest collective chase rate), and their starters have the third-lowest collective walk rate while their bullpen has the lowest. Dodgers’ relievers combined to form one of the best bullpens in baseball this year. Their 2.74 ERA is by far the best in the National League.

Dodgers starters have the National League’s lowest ERA this year too. They’ve also thrown among the fewest innings, with just 4.7 innings per start — fourth from the bottom. No starter on the NL’s best staff has thrown 100 pitches in an outing this year.

Can Cody Bellinger find his stroke? The 2019 NL MVP has a career line in the playoffs of .178/.234/.326 over 36 games. They need him to produce.

It’s Walker Buehler on the mound. Buehler reported to summer camp behind the other starters and struggled early. He didn’t complete six innings until his fifth start against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 21 when his blister surfaced. He has since been on the injured list twice and started three times.

threw four scoreless innings, striking out six, in his return to the mound last Thursday against the Athletics. Buehler was pitching for the first time in two weeks. Buehler yielded just one hit and walked one over his four innings, throwing 45 of his 65 pitches for strikes. His regular season ended with a 3.44 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings of work.  Starting Buehler before Clayton Kershaw keeps them in order, with both starting their playoff opener on five days rest.

Expert PredictionDodgers 6, Brewers 2
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