The National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers comes down to a do-or-die Game 7 Saturday night.
It will be a Game 3 rematch between Dodgers rookie Walker Buehler, arguably their best pitcher this postseason, and Brewers journeyman Jhoulys Chacin, who hasn’t allowed a run in two October starts.
The Brewers are set up well in the bullpen, with their relief ace Josh Hader rested and ready for multiple innings.
The Dodgers bullpen also well rested. Kenley Jansen, Pedro Baez and Ryan Madson did not pitch in Game 6. And let’s not forget Clayton Kershaw, who has a history of coming out of the bullpen in the postseason.
Dodgers 6, Brewers 3: The Brewers’ bullpen-heavy formula relies in part upon the notion that limiting opposing hitters’ exposure to any one particular pitcher benefits the whole staff. The guess here is that the first six games of the series offered the Dodgers enough looks at the Brewers’ relievers to finally do damage in Game 7 and power Los Angeles to victory.
Brewers 5, Dodgers 2: Thanks to a 7-2 win in Game 6, Brewers manager Craig Counsell did not have to use his best bullpen weapon — Josh Hader. That means Hader, on three days’ rest, will be loaded for at least nine outs in front of a frenzied Miller Park crowd.
Brewers 2, Dodgers 1 (11 inn.): Both teams have their very best arms available to help out at the first sign of trouble — and the managers won’t hesitate to go to the bullpen to get the most favorable matchups. As Josh Hader, Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, among others, string shutout innings together, the Brewers’ bullpen depth finally wins out as Christian Yelich hits a walk-off homer. Instant classic.
Brewers 5, Dodgers 1: Walker Buehler leaves just enough balls over the plate for a rejuvenated Brewers offense to square up, and Jhoulys Chacin and Josh Hader cover eight of the nine innings on the mound.
Brewers 6, Dodgers 3: The Brewers have their ace, Jhoulys Chacin, on full rest, their most valuable weapon, Josh Hader, who has thrown only 28 pitches since Game 1, and a massive home-field advantage called Miller Park.
Brewers 6, Dodgers 4: Scoring early and often off Dodgers starter and rookie Walker Buehler will be paramount. Buehler won’t be able to handle the pressure of yet another win-or-go-home scenario for the Dodgers. Expect more activity in the Brewers’ bullpen than on banking’s busiest Friday. The Brewers’ arms and well-rested closer Josh Hader will be the difference.
Dodgers 5, Brewers 2: The Dodgers have had six games to get a good look at Milwaukee pitchers and this should be the game they finally come through with some big hits. Brewers manager Craig Counsell will play himself (DJ Khaled voice) at some point in this one, trying to get too cute with the bullpen.