The Los Angeles Dodgers have quite the matchup in the National League Championship Series and will need some x-factors to step up to the plate.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have made the third NLCS in a row for the first time in franchise history. Standing in the team’s way is the Milwaukee Brewers, who have gone 23-7 since September 1st. The Los Angeles Dodgers have a tall order if they plan on beating the hottest team in baseball.
So far both teams have shown their talent in the playoffs, the Dodgers used the longball to dispatch the Atlanta Braves; the Brewers used a potent pitching staff to hold the Colorado Rockies to just two runs in a three-game sweep.
Now in a seven-game series, the Dodgers will have to avoid falling prey the same way the Rockies did.
Here are the Los Angeles Dodgers’ x-factors for the NLCS:
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For the first time since the 2016 NLCS, the Dodgers will not have home field advantage. That is problematic in this series. The Brewers led the National League with 51 home wins, if the Dodgers are going to beat the Brewers, they’ll have to overcome the Brewers home field advantage.
The Dodgers had the best road record among National League teams with 47 wins and have at least one road win in their last seven playoff series. The Dodgers need to use their experience to drown out those home crowds and win on the road to take the series.
Battle of Bullpens
The Brewers bullpen has been much celebrated lately and looked unstoppable in their series against the Rockies. In 15 1/3 innings, the Brewers gave up only two runs to the Rockies while striking out 22.
Less celebrated are is the Dodgers bullpen and for good reason. In August, when closer Kenley Jansen went on the disabled list with a heart condition, the bullpen was left without their leader. The bullpen was credited with 10 losses in the 49 games after Jansen went down. When Jansen returned, he struggled mightily, posting a 5.40 ERA and giving up seven homers in 19 outings.
In the NLDS against the Braves, the relievers turned it completely around, giving up one run in 10 2/3 innings for a 0.84 ERA, striking out 11. For Jansen, he had two clean outings, getting a save in game two and shutting down the series in game four with two strikeouts.
King Kershaw, Please Step Up
When the game one starter for the NLDS was announced, many people were shocked when Clayton Kershaw was not given the ball. Perhaps due to feeling slighted, Kershaw put on a dominant performance in his game two start, going eight innings for the first time in the playoffs.
The NLCS has proven to be a boogeyman of sorts for Kershaw. In seven NLCS starts, Kershaw is 2-4 with a 4.75 ERA. Twice the Dodgers needed him to stave off elimination and twice they watched the other team celebrate when their ace hadn’t come through.
As the game one starter, Kershaw can put the team on the path to another pennant if he can stifle the Brewers bats and get the win. The Dodgers have a strong pitching staff and no longer need Kershaw to carry them, but if he has his “A” game then the Brewers season will be over sooner rather than later.