Early on in the season the Dodgers looked like their millions and millions spent were for naught. They weren't exactly terrible, but at the end of May they were 6.5 games back of first place. Now they're leading their division by 3.5 games. They even have a better record than the Brewers and in fact are leading the entire National League. They're doing it with a pretty solid mix of offense and pitching.
They're 13th in MLB with 4.13 runs scored per game. Yasiel Puig gets crapped on a lot but he's leading the team's offense with a 167 wRC+. Matt Kemp too has seen his fair share of criticism but in spite of that he has a 134 wRC+. Aside from Puig, the only other regular with better offensive numbers is Hanley Ramirez with a 136 wRC+. He's had an awful time staying healthy this year though. Dee Gordon, Adrian Gonzalez, and Juan Uribe have all been solid contributors as well. Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke have also shined in part time roles. Carl Crawford, Andre Eithier, and AJ Ellis have sucked though.
Their pitching staff as a whole ranks 7th allowing 3.64 runs per game. Kenley Jansen is dominant. He has a 37.6 K%. Brewers hitters are screwed if they have to face him. Brian Wilson on the other hand reminds me a lot of Sergio Romo. They both have that former closer sheen, but they're both having terrible horrible years. Wilson is still striking out at a solid rate (26.2%), but he's walking a ton (14.5%), and he's getting hit hard (.264 BAA) which has resulted in a deplorable 1.77 WHIP. J.P. Howell is a solid lefty capable of facing righties and lefties. After that the rest of the bullpen is pretty unremarkable.
Friday, August 8th 7:10 pm CT: Kyle Lohse vs Roberto Hernandez
Hernandez was recently acquired from the Phillies. Josh Beckett was originally slated to start this game, but he's been dealing with a hip injury for a while and apparently it's become a serious issue. The Brewers have faced Hernandez before. Early in the season the Brewers knocked him around for 4 runs in 5 innings but more recently he held them to 1 run across 8 innings. He might not be a terrible pitcher but he's not terribly effective either. His 14.2 K% is really abysmal and his 10.4 BB% isn't helping him any. He's been really lucky only to have allowed a .258 BABIP. The Dodgers infield isn't exactly top notch defensively so hopefully that BABIP meets some regression.
Saturday, August 9th 6:10 pm CT: Mike Fiers vs Zack Greinke
Yay! Zack Greinke is back in Miller Park. Oh crap, Zack Greinke is back in Miller Park... I don't have to tell you guys how good Greinke is. We all had the pleasure of witnessing that first hand for too short a time. He's even better now. He has a great 26.5 K% and 4.9 BB%. He's limiting home runs (0.86 HR/9). Even though his .244 BAA is close to league average, his 1.14 WHIP is well below because of everything else he's doing so well.
Of note for the Brewers: Matt Garza is on the DL and making the start in his place is Mike Fiers. I had hoped it would be Marco Estrada, but he pitched in relief recently making that an impossibility. Still, Fiers has been exquisite in AAA this year. He has a 27.3 K%-BB%, .297 BAA, and 0.95 WHIP. Don't fool yourself into thinking he's going to be anywhere near as effective at the major league level. He could luck into a few good starts though. He has good deception, but the book might already be out on him as he's made 40 appearances at the major league level. His 88 mph fastball means he has to be nearly perfect, even with good deception. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike him. In fact I'm very hopeful he can luck into those good starts. However, if he has to pitch for an extended period of time the rest of these season I'd be worried.
Sunday, August 9th 1:10 pm CT: Jimmy Nelson vs Clayton Kershaw
Do you have an elderly relative you keep putting off visiting? Is there a hobby you keep meaning to learn but put off because you're just too busy (read: lazy)? Well Sunday afternoon is a great time to take care of those things. The Brewers are going to lose. I love them. I still think they have a good team and are going to win the division. They're going to lose Sunday.
Clayton Kershaw is otherworldly. ERA (1.82), FIP (1.72), xFIP (1.91), SIERA (1.91), K% (32.5%), K%-BB% (29.0%), WHIP (0.85). Those are things Clayton Kershaw leads the major leagues in. Not the National League, all of baseball. He is fierce demon sent to destroy and that's exactly what he does.
Oh you guys. I'm usually pretty confident in the Brewers ability to win 2 out of 3. I absolutely think the Brewers can win Friday night. The pitching match-up is heavily in their favor. Things get pretty dark after that. The Brewers clicking on all cylinders can beat Greinke. It's happened before. With Fiers starting everything seems to be stacked against them. Then there's Jimmy Nelson vs Clayton Kershaw. Even if Nelson can hold off the Dodgers, I'll be shocked if the Brewers score multiple runs if any at all against Kershaw. He's just too damn good. Sorry, but I'm feeling a series loss is nigh.
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Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs