Posted on October 20, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Well, it all comes down to this. The Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Dodgers are heading toward a Game 7 in the NLCS. With their backs up against the wall in Game 6, the Brewers came out swinging, scoring four runs in the 1st inning and cruising from there. It only seems appropriate for this series to go the distance after how competitive the games have been. However, after Friday night’s win, the Brewers may have swung the momentum in their favor.
Jesus Aguilar was in the middle of the controversy with Manny Machado in Game 4. In Game 6, he seemed to get some redemption. Aguilar went 3 for 4 with three RBIs, including a two-run double in the 1st inning to open the scoring for Milwaukee. Machado, meanwhile, was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in Game 6. He was serenaded with boos every time he stepped up to the plate. Of course, it remains to be seen if Aguilar can play the role of hero again in Game 7.
The Brewers will turn to Jhoulys Chacin to start Game 7. He won 15 games during the regular season and has carried over that success into the postseason. Chacin has thrown 10.1 scoreless innings over two playoff starts. That includes a Game 3 start against the Dodgers in which he struck out six and allowed three hits over 5.1 innings. He’s been too good for Craig Counsell to take him out after one batter as he did with Wade Miley in Game 5. However, Chacin may not have a long leash against this Los Angeles lineup if it looks like he can’t handle the moment.
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The Dodgers, meanwhile, will go back to rookie Walker Buehler in Game 7. Buehler was brilliant during the regular season, but he’s had some misfortune in the playoffs. He managed to give the Dodgers seven innings in Game 3. However, he also took the loss, eventually running out of gas, giving up one run in the 6th inning and two more in the 7th. There has to be at least some level of uncertainty about whether he’s ready to rise to the occasion. The Los Angeles bullpen may be on call early in this game.
The Dodgers have been a little hot and cold offensively in this series. It’s vital that they start fast and get to Chacin early before Milwaukee’s bullpen closes the door. With that in mind, Cody Bellinger may be the X-factor for Los Angeles. He had a walk-off hit earlier in this series, but he’s just 4 for 21 (.190) during the NLCS after going hitless in the NLDS. However, in 12 career at-bats against Chacin during the regular season, he has a triple and two home runs among his five hits. If there’s someone who can deliver a big hit for the Dodgers against Chacin, he may be the guy.
For the Brewers, the ultimate X-factor will be reliever Josh Hader. He’s Milwaukee’s biggest weapon out of the bullpen, and after not being used in Game 6, he should be available for up to three innings in Game 7, possibly more. Hader has struck out eight and given up four hits over 4.2 scoreless innings in this series. He also tossed four shutout innings while allowing just one hit against the Dodgers during the regular season. Hader could be lethal in this game against the Dodgers, especially if they stack their lineup with left-handed hitters to face Chacin.
Things set up awfully nice for the Brewers in this game. Chacin has pitched well in the postseason and there’s a fresh Hader behind him. Buehler, on the other hand, has had his troubles and the Milwaukee lineup looks ready to tee off after Game 6. Look for the Brewers to get a lead and hold onto it at all costs. Milwaukee wins 5-3.
Note: This prediction is the opinion of the author and not necessarily the prediction of Jon Price or Sports Information Traders.