It’s been a heckuva ride for the Milwaukee Brewers so far, coming back from 5 games down at the start of September to win the NL Central and then subsequently sweeping Colorado out of the NLDS. The Brew Crew have now won 11 straight games but face their toughest test of that run tonight against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. Despite the Brewers success, oddsmakers have set the Dodgers at significant -155 favorites in the 2018 NLCS Game 1 free pick. Can a rowdy home crowd overcome one of the best pitchers in MLB history?
Dodgers Have Been Here Before
LA has to have this return pretty much down by now as they play in the NLCS for the third straight year and the 5th time in 6 seasons. Starter Clayton Kershaw is the biggest factor in the Dodgers being -155 favorites in the 2018 NLCS Game 1 free pick. Kershaw was great in the NLDS game 2, holding Atlanta to 2 hits over 8.0 IP. The narrative is that the lefty has put his postseason issues to bed and that’s largely true. In the 2017 postseason Kershaw had three starts of 2ER or less and never allowed more than 4 hits. In his other too outings though, opposing teams scored 10 ER in 11 IP. That gives Milwaukee hope. The Brewers can’t like the fact that Kershaw is 4-1 with a 1.40 ERA in 7 starts at Miller Park.
Dodgers batters are feeling it after scoring 20 runs in the 4-game divisional series against Atlanta fueled by 7 long balls. They do collectively hit just .227 vs. Milwaukee starter Gio Gonzalez across 128 career AB however. That and Max Kemp is the only current LA player to have ever gone deep against the Brewers lefty. Justin Turner posted a .357 average in the NLDS but he’s just 2-20 in his career against Gonzalez. Manny Machado had by all accounts a big series against Atlanta with 2HR and 6RBI but overall he was just 3-17 (.176) with 7K’s. Is this the kind of all-or-nothing approach that can be successful vs. the Milwaukee relievers?
The Brewers want to use their relievers to handcuff the Dodgers’ hitters. The Dodgers want to combine their plate discipline and depth to exhaust the Brewers’ pitchers.@Ken_Rosenthal expects managerial chess matches and the NLCS to be won in seven gameshttps://t.co/iMCYLpmeLl
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticLA) October 12, 2018
Brewers Look to Gonzalez – and Their Bullpen
Gio Gonzalez (10-11, 4.21) gets the somewhat surprising nod for Milwaukee in the 2018 NLCS game 1 free pick. Gonzalez didn’t see any action in the NLDS and hasn’t pitched since September 30th yet manager Craig Counsell says he likes the matchups. Not only that, since coming over to Milwaukee Gonzalez has made 4 starts at his new ‘home’ ballpark – 3 of which were shutouts. Gonzalez hasn’t allowed more than 3 hits in any of his 5 starts with the Brewers and seems to thrive knowing he only has to give a solid 5 innings. That’s because Milwaukee then turns the ball over to Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress and the rest of the bullpen that posted a 1.17 ERA in the NLDS.
The Dodgers send the greatest pitcher of our generation to the mound tonight but the Brewers counter that with the hottest hitter on the planet in Christian Yelich. The soon-to-be-named NL MVP was just 2-8 in the divisional series but he did hit a HR and drew the respect of the Rockies with 6 BB. Erik Kratz was on fire last round going 5-8 (.625) vs. Colorado while Ryan Braun and Mike Moustakas are providing timely hitting with a combined 9-24 in the NLDS. Yelich actually hammers Kershaw too, going 4-6 withe 2HR vs. the Dodgers starter this year. The rest of the Brewers were just 8-42 (.190) vs. Kershaw this year however.
2018 NLCS Game 1 Free Pick Betting
The Dodgers are postseason veterans but they’re about ready to see a whole different animal tonight at Miller Park with a bunch of Wisonsinites that have been tailgating since about 10 AM. Brewers fever has become so contagious that the beloved Packers are even playing second fiddle this weekend. Milwaukee is a team on a roll right now and they’ve got an air of invincibility that is only going to be fed by the crowd’s energy – no matter how many Cy Young awards the opposing pitcher owns. Kershaw has been solid in the postseason – but not perfect. Yelich and Co. exploit that tonight and there’s great value on the home team.
NLCS Free Pick: Milwaukee Brewers +140