Posted on October 17, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After four games, the NLCS between the Dodgers and Brewers is tied up at 2-2. The Dodgers outlasted the Brewers in 13 innings in Tuesday’s Game 4, getting a walk-off hit from Cody Bellinger to even the series. The winner of Wednesday’s Game 5 will seize control of the series while the loser will have to win both games when the series shifts back to Milwaukee this weekend.
Despite the win in Game 4, one can argue that the Dodgers are still in the midst of a team-wide slump. After getting shutout in Game 3, the Dodgers only scratched out two runs over 13 innings in Game 4. That’s just two runs over the last 22 innings for the Dodgers. Outside of Manny Machado and Chris Taylor, hits have been hard to come by in this series for most of the hitters in the Los Angeles lineup. Obviously, everyone in their lineup is capable of coming up with a clutch hit in a big spot, as Bellinger did in Game 4. However, a lack of runs since coming home to Los Angeles is no doubt a concern.
With his mind set on redemption, Clayton Kershaw will get the ball for the Dodgers in Game 5. Kershaw was victimized by his defense in Game 1, but he was also knocked around by the Brewers for five runs (four earned) on six hits over three innings. Obviously, that kind of performance is unusual for Kershaw. But keep in mind that Kershaw’s track record in the postseason is somewhat modest. He’s 8-8 with a 4.26 ERA in his postseason career, so dominance in Game 5 is far from a guarantee.
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Meanwhile, the Brewers will send Wade Miley to the mound in Game 5 on short rest. Miley delivered 5.2 scoreless innings against the Dodgers in Game 2 after tossing 4.2 shutout innings during his start in the NLDS. That’s (shockingly) 10.1 scoreless innings this postseason for Miley. Obviously, going on short rest adds a little uncertainty to the equation. However, Miley was pulled from Game 2 after only 74 pitches, so he should be good to go in Game 5.
For the Brewers, watch out for Jesus Aguilar to the X-factor in Game 5. During Game 4, there was a dust-up between Aguilar and Machado, as the Los Angeles shortstop appeared to clip the heels of Aguilar as he ran past first base on a routine groundout. Aguilar and the Brewers were none too amused. While just 3 for 14 in this series and 0 for 8 in his career against Kershaw, Aguilar may have a little extra incentive to be the one who steps up for the Brewers in Game 5.
On the other side, keep an eye on Yasiel Puig. He’s yet to put his stamp on this series, going 2 for 11 with five strikeouts. However, he’s 6 for 17 with a home run and six walks against Miley in his career. Outside of the usual suspects, he’s someone the Dodgers wouldn’t mind coming up in a big spot in Game 5.
Despite Game 4 lasting 13 innings, the Brewers only used their best bullpen arms for one inning at most. In fact, closer Jeremy Jeffress didn’t pitch at all. That means Craig Counsell can go all-in with his bullpen to win Game 5 before an off day on Thursday. Look for Miley to go four or five innings before Counsell goes to his bullpen against a slumping Dodgers lineup. That should give the Brewers a window to score a few runs and get a lead. Milwaukee wins 4-2.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.