Dodgers vs. Brewers NLCS Game 7: Everything you need to know about the decisive winner-takes-all showdown
It's one game to determine the National League champ for 2018
The Brewers prevailed over the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS by a (watch highlights on CBS Sports HQ), and that means the two teams will meet again back in Miller Park on Saturday evening for a Game 7. That means this one game will determine who wins the pennant for 2018 and advances to face the Red Sox in the World Series. To set the scene, let's look at some things to know about this decisive winner-takes-all showdown in Milwaukee.
The Brewers are set up pretty well in the bullpen
Mostly, this means Josh Hader is set up in the bullpen. Thanks to the relatively comfy margin of victory in Game 6, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell was never forced to use his relief ace. That means Hader will go into Game 7 on Saturday not having pitched since Tuesday, so that'll be three days of rest. Counsell has already talked about how much better Hader fares when he's rested. In his brief career, Hader has made 17 appearances on three days' rest, and in those games he's allowed an opponents' OPS of just .377 (!).
Expect Counsell to use him aggressively and for multiple innings. Hader worked three shutout innings in Game 1 against the Dodgers, and on four occasions during the 2017 and 2018 regular seasons he went three innings in a game. Perhaps Counsell will try him for more than nine outs in Game 7? It's within the range of possibilities. Speaking of which ...
Elsewhere, Jeremy Jeffress threw just 13 pitches in Game 6, so he's likely available for Game 7. Corey Knebel worked 1 2/3 innings and threw 25 pitches. Only once during the regular season did he pitch on no rest after going more than one inning the day before, and that was after 17 pitches.
But so are the Dodgers
Of late, Dave Roberts' go-to relievers have been closer Kenley Jansen (naturally) and righties Pedro Baez and Ryan Madson. He used none of them in Game 6, and Game 6 of course followed a travel day. They're rested and ready. Also worth mentioning is that Clayton Kershaw will be coming off two days of rest since his Game 5 start. He's got a long history of short-rest appearances in the postseason, so he could be a relief option for Roberts. Don't forget his strong relief work in Game 7 of last year's World Series, which also came on two days' rest.
Jhoulys Chacin hasn't allowed a run this postseason
The veteran right-hander goes for Milwaukee in Game 7. He started against the Rockies in Game 2 of the NLDS, and twirled five scoreless with three strikeouts and as many walks. Against the Dodgers in Game 3, he worked 5 1/3 scoreless and was better from the command-and-control standpoint (six strikeouts against two walks). Going back to the regular season, Chacin hasn't allowed more than one run in a start since Sept. 21. Given the bullpen situation laid out above, Counsell may be looking for Chacin to get through the opposing lineup no more than twice.
Walker Buehler has struggled in the playoffs
The rookie Buehler, who starts for Dave Roberts and the Dodgers in Game 7, was excellent during the regular season. In the playoffs, though, he hasn't fared as well. In two starts -- including Game 3 -- he's put up a 6.75 ERA with two home runs in 12 innings. That's short-run stuff, though. Buehler has an excellent repertoire and a larger sample of pitching at a high level. Banking on those struggles to carry over to Game 7 isn't wise.
Both teams can handle right-handers
Chacin and Buehler are both righties, so the following numbers are worth noting:
- The Dodgers this season led the NL with a .796 OPS against right-handed pitchers.
- The Brewers this season ranked third in the NL with a .749 OPS against right-handed pitchers.
Dodger Stadium is more of a pitcher's park than Miller Park is, so you can adjust those Dodger numbers up a little more.
The Dodgers hold the edge in the season series
Throw the results of the NLCS to date into the mix, and the Dodgers have gone 7-6 against the Brewers this season, and over the span of those 13 regular season and playoff games they've outscored Milwaukee 66-48. However, much of that margin came in an Aug. 2 encounter that the Dodgers won 21-5 and in which Hernan Perez pitched (he gave up five runs). So calibrate accordingly.
So who wins every playoff game? And which teams are a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to get MLB Playoff picks from the proven model that simulates every game 10,000 times, and find out.
History favors the home team in Game 7
In LCS Game 7s, home teams are 11-5 (.688) all-time. So that's good for Milwaukee. Expand that to Game 7s regardless of whether it's LCS or World Series, and the home team is 29-23 (.558). Given that the home team in MLB tends to win about 54 percent of the time, what happens in Game 7s is roughly in line with that.
The Brewers have been good at home
Counting the playoffs, the Brewers in 2018 have gone 55-31 at Miller Park this season. On the other side, the Dodgers -- again, counting the postseason -- are 49-37 in road games. Hey, facts only.
Soon enough we'll know something else about Game 7 -- who won it.
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