The Milwaukee Brewers will play for the right to go to the second World Series in franchise history, beginning Friday, and the final obstacle standing in their way is the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers won their own National League Division Series battle, finishing off the Braves in four games Monday night.
Here’s a look at what to expect from the Dodgers:
How they fared head-to-head
The Dodgers won the season series, 4-3. The Brewers split an entertaining four-game series in Los Angeles in late July and early August. In a three-game set at Miller Park immediately after the All-Star break, the Dodgers won 2 of 3 – and that was the low point of the season for Milwaukee, having lost seven of eight.
The biggest bats
Justin Turner: The red-bearded third baseman has battled injuries this season, but he has a .924 OPS and .406 on-base percentage.
Matt Kemp: Rediscovering his swing after it appeared he was on the decline, the 34-year-old outfielder hit 21 homers this year and had in a team-best 85 RBI.
Max Muncy: Another revelation this year, Muncy clubbed a team-best 35 home runs. The 28-year-old utility man hit five career home runs between two unremarkable seasons with Oakland in 2015 and 2016; this year, he was in the Home Run Derby.
Manny Machado: The biggest prize at the trade deadline was also a player Milwaukee pursued. The shortstop started the year with Baltimore, and he’s posted an .825 OPS with the Dodgers this season. Surely one of the big story lines will be how Machado does after the Brewers couldn’t acquire him at the trade deadline (making other moves to get Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop instead).
The best arms
Clayton Kershaw: The future Hall of Famer needs no introduction. The left-handed virtuoso had another great year with a 2.73 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 161 innings. Even if this may not be his best year, and the stigma of postseason struggles still lingers, Kershaw is one of the game’s absolute hammers, and you better believe he’ll be starting Game 1. The Brewers did beat Kershaw at Miller Park earlier this year, however.
Walker Buehler: The 23-year-old is one of the rising stars in the game, and he went 8-5 this year with a 2.62 ERA. He was the winning pitcher in the NL West tiebreaker Oct. 1, allowing just one hit in 6 2/3 innings.
Kenley Jansen: The closer has been dominant in years past, although he’s not quite as unhittable this year as he’s been in years past (3.01 ERA, 38 saves but five losses).
The Brewers’ Kryptonite
Yasmani Grandal: The catcher has always found a way to just crush the Brewers, and this year is no different. He has a .412 batting average in 17 at-bats vs. Milwaukee this year, with two homers and three RBI. One of those homers was a two-run walk-off homer at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 1. His 17 RBI against the Brewers the past three years are his most against any non-NL West team.
Caleb Ferguson: The reliever has thrown four innings over two appearances against the Brewers, recording a save and striking out a full half of his outs, with just one hit and one walk allowed.
The Dodgers’ Kryptonite
Wade Miley: Miley has made two starts against the Dodgers, navigating 13 innings without allowing a run. He’s permitted six hits and four walks, but he also has seven strikeouts. He was on the hill for Milwaukee’s 1-0 win over the Dodgers on July 31 at Dodger Stadium. For what it’s worth, Joakim Soria, Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader have combined for 9 innings without allowing a run vs. the Dodgers this year.
Christian Yelich: I mean, what else is new, right? Yelich has 13 hits in 30 at-bats against the Dodgers (.433 average) with four doubles, two homers and five RBI.
The story at the heart of it all
The Dodgers lineup can simply flat-out mash. Chris Taylor, Cody Bellinger, Enrique Hernandez, Yasiel Puig and Joc Pederson all represent problems in addition to the names above – seven different guys cleared 20 home runs, and three others also finished in double digits. This is perceptively a much tougher lineup to keep in check than Colorado (although the Dodgers’ league-leading 804 runs this season is only a handful ahead of Colorado’s 780).
July 20: Dodgers 6, Brewers 4. The one where the Brewers had to face Manny Machado right after he got traded to somebody else.
July 21: Brewers 4, Dodgers 2. The one where Josh Hader received an off-putting standing ovation.
July 22: Dodgers 11, Brewers 2. The one where Hernan Perez pitched and hit a guy with a 48-mile-per-hour pitch, and Brent Suter left with injury.
July 30: Brewers 5, Dodgers 2. The one where Eric Thames just missed a grand slam but hit a three-run homer in his next at-bat
July 31: Brewers 1, Dodgers 0. The one where Lorenzo Cain drove in the only run and saved another with a leaping catch.
Aug. 1: Dodgers 6, Brewers 4 (10). The one where it felt like playoff baseball in August, even if the outcome was a walk-off loss
Aug. 2: Dodgers 21, Brewers 5. The one where the Brewers allowed a franchise-record number of runs.