Bob U Justin Smoak Blue Jays Jersey ecker enjoying Brewers’ run to NLCS

MILWAUKEE — One of the best moments of Bob Uecker’s not-so-illustrious playing career occurred against the Dodgers, the team the Brewers are about to take on in the National League Championship Series.

It was also one of the most troubling moments, if you actually believe him.

MILWAUKEE — One of the best moments of Bob Uecker’s not-so-illustrious playing career occurred against the Dodgers, the team the Brewers are about to take on in the National League Championship Series.

It was also one of the most troubling moments, if you actually believe him.

“Every time I see Sandy Koufax, I have to apologize to him,” Uecker has said many times. “I always thought it was going to keep him out of the Hall of Fame.”

• Game 1: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

It was July 24, 1965. Uecker, who’d broken into the big leagues with his hometown Milwaukee Braves, was with the Cardinals by then, and was the lesser-used half of a catcher platoon with Tim McCarver. That explains how Uecker found himself in the lineup that day at Dodger Stadium against Koufax, the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner who did eventually make it to the Hall of Fame, in spite of Uecker’s best efforts. Of all Uecker’s amazing statistics, including his perfect .200 lifetime batting average and that he really did lead the league with 27 passed balls in ’67, the best may be this: In 1965, he hit .400 (6-for-15) against Sandy Koufax.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

On this July day, the Dodgers’ Lou Johnson and Ron Fairly had hit sacrifice flies early in the game to spot Koufax a 2-0 lead, but Uecker keyed a Cardinals comeback with that big moment we’ve been leading up to — a two-out solo homer to the left-field bleachers in the fifth. The Cardinals tied the game an inning later, and when Uecker came to the plate again in the seventh, Koufax issued an intentional walk. Maybe he was rattled. Probably it was because the pitcher was on deck with two outs.

The latter moment led to another memorable Uecker line.

“Career highlights? Kevin Pillar Jersey ” he’s said. “I had two. I got an intentional walk from Sandy Koufax, and I got out of a rundown against the Mets.”

The story of that rundown will have to wait for another day.

+++

Is anyone having more fun during the Brewers’ postseason run than Bob Uecker?

Before we get to the dance moves, let’s cover the biography. Uecker is 84, despite what some sources will tell you. Throughout his playing career, the backs of his baseball cards all said he was born in 1935, and Uecker never considered it enough of a problem to say he was actually born in Milwaukee in 1934. When he turned 80 a couple of years back on the same day the Brewers held their annual winter fanfest, he finally corrected the record. Some outlets still haven’t gotten word.

Then-Brewers owner Bud Selig had known Uecker for years by the time he hired him in 1971 as a scout. When that didn’t work out — there’s an often-told story about reports arriving on Selig’s desk smeared with mashed potatoes and gravy — Uecker moved up to the radio booth, beginning a broadcasting career that has led him to many Halls of Fame, including the broadcasters’ wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Do the math, and that means Uecker is in his 48th season calling games for his hometown team.

“Ueck has been on my side since Day 1, even when I came over here and had all of my struggles,” said Brewers backup outfielder Keon Broxton, echoing what many players who have crossed Uecker’s path over the years will tell you. “His excitement in all this is awesome. Everyone deserves it. Everyone has been working hard. It’s a great feeling for everybody.

“He is definitely part of the team. We’ve got 25 men, and he is 26.”

The 26th man has been the star of the Brewers’ three champagne celebrations so far. The video clip of his dance moves in St. Louis the night the Brewers clinched a spot in the postseason was made for the age of social media, and Uecker has reprised it in each of the two clubhouse parties since — first at Wrigley Field on the day the Brewers won the NL Central in a Game 163 against the Cubs, and again Sunday in Denver after the Brewers swept the Rockies in the NL Division Series.

Tweet from @Brewers: We don���t know what this move is called but we like it. #OurCrewOurOctober pic.twitter.com/XLkDJUSUAR

Uecker no longer makes most road trips — Brewers Radio Network teammates Jeff Levering and Lane Grindle call those games — but he resumed a full schedule beginning with the final road trip of the regular season.

“I’ve been around here a long, long time, and I’ve been through a couple of them before, and nothing like this ever gets old,” Uecker said when the Brewers celebrated in St. Louis. “Especially with these guys. To have the kind of year that some of these guys are having. … This is how it pretty much is in the clubhouse every night, except the beer is free.”

Players play to pop champagne. Do broadcasters broadcast for the moments that produce such celebrations?

“I enjoy the broadcast every day,” said Uecker, “but it’s my friendship with these guys. They treat me like a player, that’s the thing. I can come in here and they can break my chops and whatever they want, and they know I’m part of it. That’s the one thing: No matter how old you get, they keep you young.”

Video: MIL@STL: Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker on postseason

Uecker knows what it is like to win a World Series without swinging a bat, though he did wield a tuba for the ’64 World Series champion Cardinals. Uecker donned the instrument in the outfield during batting practice before Game 2 of the Serie Justin Smoak Jersey s against the favored Yankees in an effort to relieve teammates’ tension.

St. Louis triumphed in seven games, but Uecker didn’t get into any of them.

In 1982, he threw batting practice for the Brewers before calling their games on the way to a World Series against his former team, the Cardinals.

• Brewers look to emulate ’82 pennant-winning squad

What would a World Series mean to him today?

“Another ring,”  Justin Smoak Blue Jays Jersey Uecker said, before breaking into laughter. “This club is capable. Absolutely.”

During Selig’s tenure as Brewers owner, legend says Uecker’s “contract” consisted of a yearly handshake agreement. It’s unclear whether Uecker and current owner Mark Attanasio have continued the practice, though Uecker was asked whether he’d already committed to 2019.

“I’m looking at 2022,” he said, with his usual straight face. “And then I’m going to go to Japan and try to play. They haven’t seen me play.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.


Milwaukee Brewers

Mark Justin Smoak Blue Jays Jersey Loretta played for all 4 LCS teams

Mark Loretta found out about his, ahem, historic place in this year’s League Championship Series the same way everyone else did — on Twitter.

And at first, it was hard for him to believe it.

Mark Loretta found out about his, ahem, historic place in this year’s League Championship Series the same way everyone else did — on Twitter.

And at first, it was hard for him to believe Justin Smoak Blue Jays Jersey  it.

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“My wife’s, like, ‘You think that’s right?'” Loretta said.

Turns out, it was. Loretta, one of more than 10,000 players to ever wear a Major League uniform, is the only one who has played for all four teams that are still alive in the postseason this year.

Video: Mark Loretta talks playoffs on High Heat

That’s right, friends. Loretta, in a 15-year career, was a Brewer, an Astro, a Dodger and a Red Sox. No other player, living or otherwise, holds such a distinction.

Once this obscure stat started circulating around the social media sphere on Wednesday, Loretta’s phone began buzzing. Text messages trickled in, many from people he hadn’t spoken to in a while.

Video: COL@HOU: Loretta hits two-run walk-off home run

Curious about the stat, and anxious to find out if it was real, Loretta sent a message to his friend Matt Vasgersian, a studio host at MLB Network and the play-by-play announcer for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

“I said, ‘Matty, this seems inaccurate,'” Loretta recalled. “‘Can you have your guys check on it?’ An hour later, he texted back, ‘Verified.'”

Tweet from @ckamka: 4 teams remaining:Red Sox, Astros, Dodgers & Brewers.One player in MLB history played for all four of those teams. Mark Loretta.

Players who have long Major League careers tend to have multiple teams listed on the backs of their baseball cards by the time they retire, so Loretta wasn’t all that shocked that he happened to have played for all four teams involved in the LCS.

He’s just surprised that he’s the only one.

“Especially in this day and age,” Loretta said. “It’s not like these teams are expansion teams.”

Loretta was originally a Brewers Draft pick, s Kevin Pillar Blue Jays Jersey elected in the seventh round in 1993. He played for Milwaukee from 1995-2002, before joining the Astros mid-season. He played for the Padres from ’03-05, the Red Sox in ’06, returned to Houston for the ’07-08 seasons and ended his career with the Dodgers in ’09.

Given that nearly a decade has passed since was an active player, Loretta was amused that he ended up as a trivia question in the middle of October. Now a special assistant in the Padres’ front office, Loretta, who played in two postseasons — with the Padres in 2005 and the Dodgers in ’09 — admitted this has been a fun couple of days.

“I played for five teams, and four out of five are in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s cool. I’ve heard from people that I don’t keep in regular contact with, and I saw it on Twitter, which is fun.”

Video: ATL@MIL: Loretta hits  Justin Smoak Jersey solo homer off Millwood

Unprompted, Loretta rattled off at least one fond memory he had playing for each playoff team. Milwaukee, his first organization, was like “your first love,” he said. A lot of the support staff when he played there — trainers, clubhouse workers, the traveling secretary, broadcaster Bob Uecker — are still with them. He’s good friends with their manager, Craig Counsell, and their bench coach, Pat Murphy. So yes, he has perhaps the softest spot for the Brewers.

While with the Astros, Loretta witnessed Hall of Famer Craig Biggio’s 3,000th hit in 2007 and formed a bond with a veteran Houston contigent that named itself the Five Wise Men. Loretta, Darin Erstad, Geoff Blum, Jose Cruz Jr. and Brad Ausmus were, Loretta described, a band of brothers “not often needed, but always ready.”

In Boston, Loretta experienced one of his favorite personal accomplishments — he hit a walk-off homer on Patriots’ Day, a celebratory holiday that starts with the Boston Marathon and continues with a late-morning first pitch at Fenway Park.

Video: SEA@BOS: Loretta hits walk-off home run

“I was in Boston only one year, but in terms of baseball, it was probably my favorite,” Loretta said. “The atmosphere at Fenway Park — every game was like a playoff game.”

And finally, Loretta reflected on ending his career with the Dodgers, the team he rooted for as a kid growing up in southern California.

Video: 50 Greatest Moments: Loretta’s game-winner in NLDS

“Bill Russell, Ron Cey, Davey Lopes were a big deal to watch,” Loretta said. “So it was kind of fun to come full circle and play for them.”

As a baseball executive, Loretta’s rooting interests these days rest solely with San Diego, and he will be watching the postseason through a somewhat neutral lens. But he suspects last year’s World Series participants, the Astros and Dodgers, may make it there again.

He’s not ruling out the possibility of a surprise, though.

“You never know in baseball,” Loretta said. “But I don’t expect two sweeps.”

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Dodgers-Brewers NLCS Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey positional breakdown

The Dodgers are the six-time defending National League West champions, while the Brewers needed a tiebreaker to win just their fourth division title in nearly five decades of existence.

None of that really matters when it comes to who will win the upcoming NL Championship Series, but it does go to show you just how differently the recent history of these two teams has been. While the Dodgers are in the midst of long-running success, the Brewers were a fourth-place team as recently as 2015 and ’16, and they saw their turnaround fueled by a multitude of successful trades and signi Joe Biagini Jersey ngs.

The Dodgers are the six-time defending National League West champions, while the Brewers needed a tiebreaker to win just their fourth division title in nearly five decades of existence.

None of that really matters when it comes to who will win the upcoming NL Championship Series, but it does go to show you just how differently the recent history of these two teams has been. While the Dodgers are in the midst of long-running success, the Brewer Joe Carter Jersey s were a fourth-place team as recently as 2015 and ’16, and they saw their turnaround fueled by a multitude of successful trades and signings.

Milwaukee has also won 11 straight games, dating back to Sept. 22. The Brewers have baseball’s hottest hitter in right field, a deep bullpen that more than makes up for any weakness in the rotation, and a manager who isn’t afraid to deploy his pitchers aggressively. They may not have the postseason experience of the Dodgers, but then again, that doesn’t really matter, does it?

Video: Dodgers, Brewers set for Game 1 of the NLCS

Let’s go position by position to see who has the edge. 

Catcher

Yasmani Grandal (.241/.349/.466, with 24 homers) had the third-best hitting line of the 27 catchers who had 300 plate appearances, and he also rated as baseball’s best pitch framer (+17 runs), as he so often does; there’s a strong argument to make that only J.T. Realmuto had a better all-around year among regular catchers. Despite the unexpectedly strong October run of Erik Kratz (.236/.280/.355 during the season) and the strong defense of Manny Pina (.252/.307/.395), neither Brewers backstop can match up to Grandal. 

Advantage: Dodgers

Video: ATL@LAD Gm2: Grandal belts a solo home run to right

First Base

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

The Brewers have a 28-year-old breakout star taking advantage of an opportunity to play after years in the Minors. But so do the Dodgers, almost exactly; both Jesus Aguilar (.274/.352/.539, with 35 home runs) and Max Muncy (.263/.391/.582, with 35 home runs) were born in the summer of 1990. So, why do the Dodgers get the edge here? Because Muncy has a 39-point edge in OBP and a 43-point edge in slugging, and because Los Angeles also has David Freese, who’s made a career out of smashing lefty pitching, and Milwaukee has a pair of southpaw starting pitchers.

Advantage: Dodgers

Second Base

Speaking of similarities: Both teams have starting second basemen who spent much of the year playing other spots, and both teams acquired veteran sluggers in July who failed to add much value to their new clubs. (Brian Dozier hit .182/.300/.350 for the Dodgers after arriving from Minnesota; Jonathan Schoop hit .202/.246/.331 for the Brewers after coming over from the Orioles.)

As for those starters, however, Travis Shaw (.241/.345/.480, with 32 homers) hit well and fielded capably after a mid-season shift from third to second, and somehow he still played more second-base innings than Enrique Hernandez (.256/.336/.470 with 21 homers) did. Shaw gets the small edge due to a better track record with the bat, though he may be somewhat vulnerable to a lefty-heavy Dodgers rotation after hitting just two of his 32 homers against lefties in 2018.

Small advantage: Brewers

Video: McCalvy on season series between Brewers and Dodgers

Shortstop

We should note that Orlando Arcia has had some big moments lately, including going 4-for-4 in the NL Central tiebreaker, but his .236/.268/.307 line made him one of the weakest hitters in baseball this year. Hernan  Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey Perez, who is expected to be in the lineup vs. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, had a .253/.290/.386 batting line on the season, but he did post a .783 OPS in 125 plate appearaces vs. lefties this year. Of course, Manny Machado (.297/.367/.538, with 37 homers) put up his usual big offensive season, even if Arcia gives the Brewers a clear defensive edge when he’s in the lineup. Joe Carter Throwback Jersey 

Big advantage: Dodgers

Video: Machado on pressure from being traded to Dodgers

Third Base

Mike Moustakas (.251/.315/.459) provided the Brewers with a league-average bat and average fielding, which is more valuable than it sounds, because it allowed Shaw to move to second to replace the ineffective Jonathan Villar. Of course, Justin Turner (.312/.406/.518) is a full half-decade into being one of the most dangerous hitters in the game.

Advantage: Dodgers

Video: SD@LAD: Turner belts a 2-run double down the line

Left Field

With Chris Taylor no longer playing nearly as much infield as he did earlier in the year, he sees most of his time here, platooning with Joc Pederson. Taylor (.254/.331/.444) hasn’t had a strong season, but Pederson (.248/.321/.522) has, putting up a top-25 slugging rate among players with as many plate appearances as he had. And since none of the three are strong defenders, that slugging edge gives the Dodgers a small advantage over Ryan Braun (.254/.313/.469).

Small advantage: Dodgers

Center Field

Though the Dodgers cycle Taylor, Hernandez, and Pederson through this spot as well, this has largely been Cody Bellinger‘s job, and he (.260/.343/.470) has hit basically as well as Lorenzo Cain (.308/.395/.417) has, with Bellinger having the power edge and Cain having a large on-base advantage. The difference here is that while Bellinger plays a solid outfield (+4 Outs Above Average), Cain (+18 OAA) is one of the best defenders in the sport. That gives Milwaukee a solid edge. 

Advantage: Brewers

Video: MLB Tonight: Cain reacts to the Brewers’ NLDS sweep

Right Field

Yasiel Puig (.267/.327/.494) and Matt Kemp (.290/.338/.481) each had solid seasons for the Dodgers, with batting seasons that were about 20 percent above-average. Of course, Christian Yelich (.326/.402/.598, with 36 home runs and 22 steals) is the slam-dunk NL Most Valuable Player Award winner, so no, this one’s not close. 

Big advantage: Brewers

Video: Yelich on newfound attention from this season

Starting Pitchers

For all their similarities, these two teams could not look more different on the mound. The Dodgers are going to roll out a strong quartet of Kershaw, Hyun-Jin RyuWalker Buehler and Rich Hill, who combined for a 2.82 ERA this year; they have so many starters that they’ve sent Ross Stripling, Kenta Maeda and Alex Wood to reinforce the bullpen. While Milwaukee’s Jhoulys Chacin is better than you think, he wouldn’t crack the Los Angeles rotation — nor would Wade Miley or Gio Gonzalez, who is starting Game 1 against Kershaw — and they’ll possibly just go with a bullpen day at least once.

Video: NLCS Gm1: Kershaw faces Gonzalez in Milwaukee

That makes this a big edge for the Dodgers, but that’s OK, because … 

Huge advantage: Dodgers

Relief Pitchers

… the Brewers have an equally large — if not larger — advantage in relief. It’s how their pitching staff is built, after all. If you take what we’ll arbitrarily call their top five relievers, including Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel, Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, that group had a 2.54 ERA and more than 12 strikeouts per nine innings.  

It’s not that the Dodgers’ bullpen is bad, necessarily. They actually had baseball’s second-best relief ERA (behind Milwaukee, of course) in September, because there’s a lot of talent there in names like Caleb Ferguson, Ryan Madson, Pedro Baez and Scott Alexander, in addition to the trio of former starters. That said, Kenley Jansen‘s season has been something of a roller coaster, and even if it wasn’t, this group hasn’t shown the same dominance as the Milwaukee relief crew.

Huge advantage: Brewers

Video: LAD@MIL Gm1: Counsell on dominant Brewers’ bullpen

Prediction

This one is close, maybe closer than you might think, and could easily go either way. We’ll take the Dodgers in 7.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.


Milwaukee Brewers,
Los Angeles Dodgers

Manny Ma Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey chado, Jonathan Schoop meet in NLCS

MILWAUKEE — Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop were longtime friends with the Orioles who took divergent paths this summer only to meet again. They had dinner plans at a downtown Milwaukee steakhouse on Thursday night before their new teams, the Dodgers and Brewers, meet in the National League Championship Series.

Of course that was the matchup. Of course Machado and Schoop meet again.

MILWAUKEE — Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop were longtime friends with the Orioles who took divergent paths this summer only to meet again. They had dinner plans at a downtown Milwaukee steakhouse on Thursday night before their new teams, the Dodgers and Brewers, meet in the National League Championship Series.

Of c Joe Carter Throwback Jersey ourse that was the matchup. Of course Machado and Schoop meet again.

When the Orioles traded Machado to the Dodgers, his first game was in Milwaukee against the Brewers. When Baltimore traded Schoop to the Brewers two weeks later, his first game was in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Now they’ll be on the same field again for Game 1 tonight.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

“Something special is going to happen,” Schoop said. “Me and him, same team and then playing against each other. For me and him, i Joe Carter Jersey t’s beyond friends.”

“Relationships always go farther than sports,” said Machado.

• Dodgers-Brewers G1: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

Schoop broke down and cried when Machado called on July 18 to say he’d been traded to the Dodgers. The two met in the instructional league in the fall of 2010, a  Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey year after Baltimore signed Schoop out of Curacao and a few months after Machado was drafted third overall. Both were shortstops, but Schoop moved to third base to accommodate Machado. It was the first of a series of position switches for both players.

They remained teammates in Class A ball in 2011 and Double-A in ’12 before Machado moved up to the Major Leagues. Schoop joined him late in ’13, and beginning in ’14, they were fixtures in the Orioles infield while growing as close as brothers off the field. They played chess and video games. FIFA is still their favorite, Schoop said.

• Who has the edge? NLCS position by position

Machado was the brighter star, making four All-Star teams with Baltimore. But Schoop was solid in his own right, hitting a career-high 32 home runs with 105 RBIs and earning his own All-Star appearance in 2017.

“Me and him, it’s like brothers now,” Schoop said. “Friends forever. Baseball makes you more than teammates.”

But baseball also split the brothers apart.

Machado made an early impact with the Dodgers, reaching safely four times in his debut in the first game after the All-Star break, a win over the Brewers at Miller Park. But Schoop slumped. He slashed .202/.246/.331 in 134 Brewers plate appearances, though there was a big moment against the Giants on Sept. 9, when he hit a go-ahead grand slam off Madison Bumgarner to send the Brewers to a three-game series sweep.

Video: SF@MIL: Schoop crushes a go-ahead grand slam in 6th

Schoop’s at-bats diminished down the stretch, though the Dodgers’ lefty-heavy starting rotation — three of their four announced starters, beginning with Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, are southpaws — means Schoop could play a more prominent role.

• Ryu gets Game 2 nod; Buehler, Hill to follow

Early on during Schoop’s struggles, Machado sent supportive texts: “You know you’re good. You know you can do it because you did it already, so don’t press. Go out there and have fun. You have a really good team, so compete. You’re at your best when you just have fun out there.”

Most of their texts are more playful. When Milwaukee’s visit to Dodger Stadium coincided with Schoop’s July 31 trade to the Brewers, the very first text was from Machado.

“He told me, ‘I’m going to see you again. I’m going to play against you, and I’m going to beat you,'” Schoop said.

A lot of their back-and-forth goes like that.

“I mean, we go way back,” Machado said. “I’ve known him for eight years. We came up together, we started playing together. We’ve done everything together for eight years in an organization. We grew our relationship. He’s one of my best friends. It’s just relationships that you build on through the years.”

Video: Machado on pressure from being traded to Dodgers

Machado once said he was the one who convinced Schoop to stop ordering his steaks well done.

That’s what was on the menu Thursday night.

“Outside of baseball, we’re friends,” Schoop said. “Inside, tomorrow, we’re going to be enemies.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.


Milwa Joe Biagini Jersey ukee Brewers,
Los Angeles Dodgers,
Manny Machado,
Jonathan Schoop

Gio Gonzalez to star Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey t Game 1 of NLCS

MILWAUKEE — It’s not that Craig Counsell and the Brewers are philosophically averse to your idea of what a Game 1 starter is supposed to be.

“Randy Johnson would be probably first on my draft list,” said Counsell, referring to his former D-backs teammate who dominated during the 2001 postseason. “If you could pick a player for me to take in the series, I’d say him in a heartbeat, you know? It would be nice to have him.

MILWAUKEE — It’s not that Craig Counsell and the Brewers are philosophically averse to your idea of what a Game 1 starter is supposed to be.

“Randy Johnson would be probably first on my draft list,” said Counsell, referring to his former D-backs teammate who dominated during the 2001 postseason. “If you could pick a player for me to take in the series, I’d say him in a heartbeat, you know? It would be nice to have him.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

“Our team’s different.”

There’s no Johnson, but there is a Gio Gonzalez. Spring Joe Carter Jersey ing a surprise for the second straight postseason series, Milwaukee announced it will send the veteran left-hander to the mound to start Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Dodgers tonight at Miller Park, despite the fact Gonzalez didn’t throw a single pitch in the NL Division Series against the Rockies.

• Dodgers-Brewers G1: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

Another veteran lefty, Wade Miley, will start Game 2. Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, the Brewers’ steadiest starter all season and the presumptive favorite to pitch Game 1, was instead penciled in to start Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.

Unless he’s needed before then.

“[Chacin] is available in Game 1,” Counsell said.

This untraditional approach has worked for Milwaukee all year. The Brewers rode just enough starting pitching and a fantastic bullpen to an NL-best and franchise-record-tying 96 regular-season victories before sweeping the Rockies in the NLDS.

Video: NLCS Gm1: Counsell discusses Gonzalez starting Game 1

Rest along the way has allowed Counsell, pitching coach Derek Johnson and Milwaukee’s analytically minded front office to make creative choices. The Brewers were off every Thursday in September, then had two full days off before the NLDS by virtue of winning the NL Central and will be coming off four full days off when they take the field against the Dodgers.

“From what I see, they didn’t need me in the first round,” Gonzalez said.

• Brewers win tonight means free burgers for Wisconsin

This round looks different. While the Rockies mashed left-handers in the run to the NLDS, the Dodgers were just as good against right-handers. Even after acquiring Manny Machado, Los Angeles logged a .750 OPS against left-handers after the All-Star break, including their NLDS win over the Braves. Compare that to an NL-best .833 OPS against righties after the break.

Video: NLCS Gm1: Kershaw faces Gonzalez in Milwaukee

Gonzalez will be well rested. He didn’t appear in the Brewers’ NL Division Series sweep of the Rockies and hasn’t pitched since Sept. 30. The 33-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Nationals on Aug. 31 and went 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five September starts with Milwaukee.

This will be Gonzalez’s seventh postseason start. He owns a 4.78 ERA through 26 1/3 playoff innings, including a start against the Dodgers in Game 3 of the 2016 NLDS. He allowed three runs on four hits (one home run) and a walk over 4 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium.

“Look, it’s no secret that we’re going to use our pitching a little differently than the traditionalists would like,” Counsell said. “For us, the first matchup that we liked was Gio on the mound. We’re asking Gio to go out there and get a bunch of outs. How many? You know, we’ll just see how it goes. Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey “

Video: MLB Now discuss the state of the Brewers’ rotation

That raises the prospect that Gonzalez could be used as a sort of “opener” in an effort to take away some of the Los Angeles’ bench options. If the Dodgers stack the lineup with right-handed hitters and the Brewers switch from Gonzalez to a right-handed reliever earlier in the game, it would force manager Dave Roberts to make some difficult choices. Roberts announced one of them on Thursday night: Right-handed hitter David Freese will start at first base over Max Muncy. The last time Miller Park hosted an NLCS in 2011, Freese was series MVP for the Cardinals. 

“How long each guy goes, that’s up to Craig,” Roberts said. “But I do think that in a seven-game series, regardless of how good a bullpen is, the more innings you can have them log, I think that that’s in our best interest. So the idea of ‘beating the starter’ still for me makes sense.”

Asked about the possibility of an early bullpen call, Gonzalez said he told Counsell, “Any way you need me, any style of pitching, I’m in.”

Video: DET@MIL: Gonzalez tosses 5 scoreless innings

It’s worked for the Brewers so far.

“I’m grateful I get to pitch another postseason game and with another team now,” Gonzalez said. “I was almost on my way home at the end of September [had I stayed with the Nationals]. So to sit here, and I’m pitching Game 1 of the second round, I think that’s pretty remarkable, pretty incredible, and hopefully, I get to tell my kids about this one day.”

As for the Brewers’ other scheduled starters, Miley made his first career postseason appearance and pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rockies in Sunday’s NLDS clincher. He went 5-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 16 regular-season starts.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Miley hurls 4 2/3 scoreless frames

Chacin hurled 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball in the Brewers’ victory in the NL Central tiebreaker over the Cubs and followed that up with five shutout innings in Game 2 of the NLDS. A free-agent acquisition last offseason, Chacin posted a 3.50 ERA in a career-high 35 starts with Milwaukee in 2018.

Video: COL@MIL Gm2: Chacin tosses 5 scoreless on 3 days rest

“It doesn’t matter what game you pitch, whether you’re the first or Game 7,” Chacin said. “The only thing you want is to win and keep moving forward. [Gonzalez] has been in the playoffs a lot, and you see how he prepares mentally for every game. … I think it’s good we have him here. I think he’s a good guy to pitch the first game.”

Jeffress explains absence in Game 163
Closer Jeremy Jeffress and the Brewers had been reluctant to  Joe Carter Throwback Jersey explain why the All-Star reliever was unavailable to pitch in the NL Central tiebreaker against the Cubs on Oct. 1, but Jeffress shared it with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday: He was sidelined with issues related to epilepsy.

Jeffress has had periodic seizures since 2008 when he was in Milwaukee’s Minor League system, but he wasn’t diagnosed with juvenile epilepsy until five years later. Since then, he has worked to manage the symptoms and has done so with great success. That final week of the regular season, however, the Brewers opted to hold him out of Game 163. Josh Hader covered the final two innings against the Cubs while Jeffress sat in the clubhouse.

“I’ve had to deal with issues related to epilepsy throughout my life,” Jeffress told the Journal Sentinel. “It’s not an everyday thing, not something that happens a lot, but it’s part of my life. That Monday in Chicago, I was working through it and they decided to hold me out. I was good to pitch and ready to go but respect their decision.”

He returned to action in the NLDS against the Rockies with a blown save in Game 1, which Milwaukee won in 10 innings. Jeffress bounced back and registered a two-inning save in Game 2, and then in Game 3, he surrendered a single and a walk in the ninth inning before Hader finished a 6-0 shutout.

Video: COL@MIL Gm2: Jeffress seals Game 2 win for Brewers

Stearns not going anywhere
The Brewers’ resurgence continues to draw attention of clubs looking to return to contention in a similar way. MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal reported on Thursday that the Giants asked for permission to interview Milwaukee general manager David Stearns to become their next president of baseball operations.

Rosenthal reported that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio denied the request from San Francisco, which fired GM Bobby Evans earlier this month. Giants executive chief vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean is believed to be leading their search along with club president Larry Baer.

The news came on the same day Milwaukee senior advisor Doug Melvin was scheduled to interview for the Mets’ GM opening, according to several reports. Melvin, 66, served as the Brewers’ GM from 2002-15, when Stearns was hired.

Hometown hero
When he retired from playing after the 2011 season, Counsell said on Thursday that his goal was to remain with the Brewers “to help baseball in Milwaukee and in Wisconsin.” Those motives feel crystallized for Counsell, given where the Brewers are under his watch: four wins away from their first World Series since 1982.

Video: LAD@MIL Gm1: Counsell on dominant Brewers’ bullpen

That history isn’t lost on the skipper, who was born in nearby Whitefish Bay, raised in Milwaukee and spent six seasons of his 16-year playing career with the Brewers. Those roots make him more public a figure in Milwaukee than most managers. Counsell is greeted by strangers while getting his morning coffee and regularly spotted around town. Interactions with fans have only become more frequent during the Brewers’ postseason push.

“It’s a thrill,” Counsell said. “I do feel like baseball in Wisconsin and Milwaukee is part of my responsibility, and the best reason to celebrate this, for me, is how you see it makes everybody feel and how we’ve been able to take our fans on a journey here this month and hopefully find some new fans that are enjoying baseball.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.


Milwaukee Brewers,
Jhoulys Chacin,
Gio Gonzalez,
Wade Miley

Christian Y Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey elich excited to play in hometown

MILWAUKEE — The whole season has been a dream for Christian Yelich, really, and it keeps getting better. It’s about to continue with a National League Championship Series against his boyhood team.

Yelich grew up in Thousand Oaks, Calif., just up the 101 freeway from Dodger Stadium. He attended too many Dodgers games as a kid to count, starting with a climb to the powder blue seats in the upper deck as a seven-year-old. More recently, he found a spot in the stands for an October game during the Dodgers’ recent run of postseason appearances.

MILWAUKEE — The whole season has been a dream for Christian Yelich, really, and it keeps getting better. It’s about to continue with a National League Championship Series against his boyhood team.

Yelich grew up in Thousand Oaks, Calif., just up the 101 freeway from Dodger Stadium. He attended too many Dodgers games as a kid to count, starting with a climb to the powder blue seats in the upper deck as a seven-year-old. More recently, he found a spot in the stands for an Octo Joe Carter Jersey ber game during the Dodgers’ recent run of postseason appearances.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

“I have a ton of friends and family that are diehard Dodger fans who say that they’re not right now. I never thought I’d see the day, honestly,” Yelich said. “My whole life, they always told me, ‘If you ever play the Dodgers in the playoffs, we’d root for you to do well, but the Dodgers to win.’

“Now they want the Brewers to win. They’ve come a long way.”

• Game 1: Lineups, matchups, FAQs

So has Yelich, who was a heck of a ballplayer with the Marlins — good enough to net four premium prospects in a late January trade — but has turned into something else with the Brewers. A solid first half made Yelich an NL All-Star, and an otherworldly second half left him flirting with the Triple Crown and heading into the postseason as the frontrunner for the NL MVP Award.

The Rockies pitched him carefully in the NL Division Series after Yelich’s two-run homer in Game 1, walking him six times in Milwaukee’s three-game sweep.

Video: MLB Tonight breaks down Yelich’s breakout season

Now he’s the player to watch in the NLCS.

• Recapping Brewers-Dodgers matchups this season

You knew that, of course. But perhaps you did not know the numbers. The Dodgers boast a solid starting rotation with three left-handers; Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill. The best of them is Kershaw, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner who is lined up to start NLCS Game 1 against Gio Gonzalez on Friday night. But Yelich is 9-for-17 with a pair of home runs in regular season matchups against L.A.’s ace, including a home run in July at Miller Park that sparked a Brewers come-from-behind win over Kershaw and the Dodgers.

Video: LAD@MIL: Yelich hammers a solo dinger to center field

Against the pitchers on the Dodgers’ NLDS roster, Yelich has a .409/.429/.636 career slash line. Against all left-handed pitchers during the 2018 regular season, Yelich slashed .337/.396/.587. He was better against right-handers, as you’d expect. But not by much.

“Really good hitter,” Kershaw said. “Obviously, he’s had a tremendous second half. You know, who knows if this is what he could have done in Miami? But he’s definitely swinging the bat very well, and honestly, I’m about to go look right now, so I don’t know what he’s changed since the last time I faced him or anything like that. But yeah, he’s gotten some hits off me, for sure, and I’m going to try not to let him do that [in Game 1].”

Said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts: “Obviously, you’re aware of him, and you have to kind of sequence him the right way, because he’s swinging the bat very well. He’s an MVP.”

Those gaudy splits didn’t surprise Yelich’s teammates.

“Yelich hits lefties, righties, starters, relievers,” said Ryan Braun. “He hits velocity and offspeed. There’s nothing, really, that he doesn’t hit.”

Would Braun be surprised to hear that Yelich even hits Kershaw?

“He’s such a great, pure hitter, so it doesn’t surprise me,” Braun said. “It’s obviously challenging for lefties to hit other quality lefties, but we’ve seen it time and again, all year, he’s just elevated his game to a level where there are very few players on the planet who are as good as he is at playing this game.”

Braun grew up in Los Angeles as a Dodgers fan, too. So did Mike Moustakas. All said it would be special to play for a spot in the World Series at the ballpark they once visited as kids.

• Crew not shying away from underdog label vs. Dodgers

“I’ve sat all over that stadium,” said Yelich. “I was lucky enough to have some friends whose family had season tickets, and they would bring you along. It was before cell phones, so they’d call your house when you were eight years old — ‘Hey, you want to go to the Dodger game?’ The answer was always, ‘Yeah.’

“You would play your travel ball tournaments in the summer and go in your uniform to Dodger Stadium, change in the parking lot into normal clothes and then go in and watch batting practice and the game. You would go to that stadium hoping to one day be on that field, let alone in a playoff game in the situation we’re in as a team.

“It’s like a dream, I’m telling you. The whole year, really, has been crazy. But you could see this shaping up before the playoffs started. You just knew it was going to happen. Here we are.

“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be loud.”

It shou Joe Carter Throwback Jersey ld be loud.

The World Series is on the line.

“Ten-year-old me probably would have never believed it was going to happen,” Yelich said. “In that aspect, it’s really cool. I’m going to have fun with it. Enjoy the experience, because it possibly could be a once-in-a-lifetime-type deal.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.


Milwaukee Brewers,
Christian Yelich

Brewers’ Hiura h Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey as big hit in AFL opener

PEORIA, Ariz. — Keston Hiura swung a hot bat at the end of the Minor League season, the second of his professional career. After a month-long layoff, the Brewers’ No. 1 prospect returned to action and quickly delivered a big hit on Arizona Fall League Opening Day.

Hiura, MLB Pipeline’s No Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey . 30 overall prospect, belted a three-run double in the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-7 win over the Glendale Desert Dogs at Peoria Sports Complex on Tuesday.

PEORIA, Ariz. — Keston Hiura swung a hot bat at the end of the Minor League season, the second of his professional career. After a month-long layoff, the Brewers’ No. 1 prospect returned to action and quickly delivered a big hit on Arizona Fall League Opening Day.

Hiura, MLB Pipeline’s No. 30 overall prospect, belted a three-run double in the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-7 win over the Glendale Desert Dogs at Peoria Sports Complex on Tuesday.

2018 Arizona Fall League rosters

After striking out in his first two at-bats, Hiura came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth inning. He crushed the first pitch he saw from Andre Scrubb, a Dodgers farmhand, off the center-field wall to clear the bases and put Peoria ahead, 5-2.

• Box Score

“It’s been a few weeks since the season ended, so I knew that at the beginning the timing was going to be a little off,” said Hiura, who went 1-for-3, reaching base three times and stealing two bases.

“He threw a first-pitch fastball with the bases loaded. I was trying to be aggressive and was able to put the barrel on the ball.”

Hiura is the fourth-highest ranked prospect playing in the AFL this season. In 123 games between Double-A Biloxi and Class A Advanced Carolina this year, the second baseman batted .293/.357/.464 with 13 home runs, 34 doubles and 43 RBIs.

Playing against some of MLB’s other top prospects and farmhands from around the Majors, Hiura plans to use the AFL season not only to get more at-bats, but also to work on his defense. The second baseman has always had a potent bat, so improving his defense could help his all-around game.

“For me, it’s to get more reps on defense, as many reps as I can get off the bat and through different positions,” Hiura said. “That’s my main goal and what I really want to take out of this.”

Other notable performances

• Ian Miller (Mariners’ No. 20) went 1-for-5, but his first hit of the AFL season was a big one. The left fielder walked it off with a bases-loaded RBI single in the ninth to win it for Peoria.

• Evan White (Mariners’ No. 2) went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI doubles, reaching base four times for Peoria. He drew a pair of walks and scored a run.

• Luis Robert (White Sox No. 4, No. 44 overall) went 1-for-4 with an RBI single, a walk and two runs scored for Glendale. He cut Peoria’s lead to 7-5 in the seventh, then Glendale scored pair of runs in the eighth to tie it.

Lucius Fox (Rays’ No. 9) batted leadoff for Peoria, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored and a pair of stolen bases. He swiped both second and third during the third inning.

Jake Rill is an editorial producer for MLB.com based in Phoenix.

Dominant pitching, Erik Kratz help Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey power Crew

MILWAUKEE — After completing a sweep of the Rockies in the National League Division Series with a 6-0 win on Sunday at Coors Field, the Brewers took Monday off before resuming workouts in advance of the NL Championship Series against the Dodgers. Game 1 is Friday at Miller Park.

It was a chance to rest those hard-worked relievers and also to look back on the first postseason series sweep in franchise history. It put Milwaukee one step away from its first World Series appearance since 1982.

MILWAUKEE — After completing a sweep of the Rockies in the National League Division Series with a 6-0 win on Sunday at Coors Field, the Brewers took Monday off before resuming workouts in advance of the NL Championship Series against the Dodgers. Game 1 is Friday at Miller Park.

It was a chance to rest those hard-worked relievers and also to look back on the first postseason series sweep in franchise history. It put Milwaukee one step away from its first World Series appearance since 1982.

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

“At midseason I said, ‘We’re a playoff team, we’re not a World Series team yet,'” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “Then I told the team in Chicago [after the Brewers clinched the NL Central], ‘This is a World Series team.’ We’ve played like it. We’ve matured as a team. Our additions have helped in that regard. We’ve got a lot of different ways to  Joe Biagini Jersey beat you, and that’s what you have to do as a World Series team.”

Here’s some of what we learned in the NLDS:

‘Out-getting’ works in a  Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey best-of-five series
The Brewers rolled into the NLDS with 11 pitchers and 14 position players on their roster because the format meant they would not play more than two days in a row. That allowed Counsell to piece together 27 outs (or 30, in the case of Game 1) with starters that included an “opener” — Brandon Woodruff for three hitless innings in Game 1, followed by Jhoulys Chacin on short rest for five innings in Game 2 and Wade Miley for 4 2/3 innings in Game 3 — and using Joakim Soria, Corey Knebel, Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress in all three games against the Rockies. Theoretically, Milwaukee might have been able to use them in all five games had the series gone that far.

• Brewers ride dominant relief corps to NLCS

It all worked beautifully, with Brewers pitchers setting an NLDS record by allowing only two runs while holding the Rockies scoreless in 27 of the 28 innings in the series.

Video: COL@MIL Gm2: Chacin tosses 5 scoreless on 3 days rest

Now, how will it look in a best-of-seven series with the 2-3-2 format?

“In a seven-game series, it’s a different series,” Counsell said. “I’ll tell you it’s a different series, and we’ll have to look at our pitching differently.”

• Crew’s arms set tone in unconventional roles

That means innings from the “initial out-getters” will be more valuable to ease the strain on the A-list relievers at the back end of the bullpen. On Thursday, Counsell named Gio Gonzalez to start Game 1 of the NLCS, with Miley tabbed for Game 2 and Chacin getting the call for Game 3.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Miley hurls 4 2/3 scoreless frames

Corbin Burnes is the X-factor
A year ago, Burnes was named Brewers Minor League Pitcher of the Year after a big season at Double-A Biloxi. In July, Milwaukee called the right-hander up to the big leagues to see if he could help cover some innings out of the bullpen. Burnes fired his first Major League pitch to the backstop at Marlins Park.

On Sunday, the 23-year-old was entrusted with protecting a 4-0 lead in the seventh and eighth innings of the clinching game at Coors Field, where four-run leads don’t mean the same as they do elsewhere.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Burnes fans 2 in 2 perfect innings

He’ll be in the starting rotation next season, but right now, Burnes is as much a part of the Brewers’ relief puzzle as those other high-leverage arms.

Including two hitless innings of Game 3, Burnes worked four scoreless innings in the NLDS, allowing one hit and no walks while striking out five.

“There’s three or four guys that get a majority of the attention, but if you look at the way Corbin Burnes is throwing the ball right now, the way Brandon Woodruff is throwing the ball right now, those guys are as good as anybody in baseball,” Ryan Braun said. “Hader’s been doing it all year. [Jeffress] has been doing it all year. Corey Knebel was arguably the best reliever in baseball last year. But we’re six or seven deep out there. We have so much confidence in all of those guys. It’s difficult to explain. It’s almost impossible to expect it to continue, but we’ve seen it time and time again, and they’re pitching their best when it matters most.”

Video: COL@MIL Gm1: Burnes fans 3 over 2 hitless frames

Erik Kratz is an offensive threat
Former Brewers general manager Doug Melvin used to always say that even the most expertly constructed team needed a surprise contributor or two to really be great. When Milwaukee last made the NLCS, it was Nyjer Morgan. This postseason, it looks like Kratz.

At 38, Kratz made his postseason debut in Game 2 of the NLDS at Miller Park and became the oldest player to start a game in his postseason debut since Milwaukee native Lave Cross for the 1905 Philadelphia Athletics.

“We played together in rookie ball,” Kratz joked.

• Kratz shocked he made it to second on line drive

But he wasn’t just the answer to a trivia question. Picked up from the Yankees’ Triple-A club in late May, Kratz posted a .634 OPS in 219 plate appearances for the Brewers during the regular season but might have been their offensive MVP in the NLDS. (It’s an unofficial title, as MLB doesn’t select series MVPs until the LCS round.) After collecting five Major League hits in 20 Joe Carter Jersey 15, eight in ’16 and two in ’17, Kratz tallied five hits in his two games in the NLDS, including a two-run single that loomed large in Game 2 and three more hits, including a double, in Game 3.

Video: COL@MIL Gm2: Kratz plates a pair on single in the 8th

Kratz handled Chacin and Miley’s starts down the stretch, so he is poised to continue playing a significant role in the NLCS.

It’s not just a human-interest story. Kratz is helping lengthen the Brewers’ lineup.

• Erik Kratz is this year’s David Ross

“It’s amazing. … He’s going out there giving us huge at-bats, delivering in the clutch,” Lorenzo Cain said. “We’re definitely going to need our complete lineup, everybody going out there and getting it done.”

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Kratz goes 3-for-4 in Brewers’ 6-0 win

Kratz, who is on his seventh big league team and 10th organization, is trying to soak it in.

“Nobody knows where their career is headed,” he said. “Surreal? Yeah, it’s surreal. I know that I’m extremely blessed to be in this moment with these guys. It’s not about me. It’s about these guys. It’s about the opportunity to be here. It’s something you can’t explain.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.


Milwaukee Brewers,
Corbin Burnes,
Jhoulys Chacin,
Erik Kratz,
Wade Miley,
Brandon Woodruff

Dodgers-Brewers Game 1 lineups and bul Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey lpens

MILWAUKEE — The National League Championship Series will pit a pair of well-rested teams when the Dodgers meet the Brewers at Miller Park for Game 1 tonight.

Teams don’t get any hotter than the Brewers, who have won 11 consecutive games, including a sweep of the Rockies in the NL Division Series during which Milwaukee’s deep pitching staff set an NLDS record by allowing only two runs, and held Colorado scoreless in 27 of 28 innings.

View Full Game Coverage

MILWAUKEE — The National League Championship Series will pit a pair of well-rested teams when the Dodgers meet the Brewers at Miller Park for Game 1 tonight.

Teams don’t get any hotter than the Brewers, who have won 11 consecutive games, including a sweep of the Rockies in the NL Division Series during which Milwaukee’s deep pitching staff set an NLDS record by allowing only two runs, and held Colorado scoreless in 27 of 28 innings.

View Full Game Coverage

The Brewers, who have strength in numbers, have decided to start left-hander Gio Gonzalez in Game 1, while the Dodgers will counter with their ace. Clayton Kershaw would have pitched Game 5 of the NLDS against the Braves had Manny Machado & Co. not closed things out in Game 4 on Monday, setting things up perfectly for L.A. heading into the best-of-seven NLCS. Kershaw allowed four runs (one earned) in six innings and took the loss in his only Miller Park start this year.

Postseason gear: Brewers | Dodgers

:: NLCS schedule and results ::

Starting lineups
Dodgers: With the Brewers starting lefty Gonzalez, the Dodgers’ lineup is almost similar to the one they used in Game 3 of the NLDS against Braves southpaw Sean Newcomb

1. Chris Taylor, LF
2. Justin Turner, 3B
3. David Freese, 1B
4. Manny Machado, SS
5. Matt Kemp, RF
6. Enrique Hernandez, 2B
7. Cody Bellinger, CF
8. Yasmani Grandal, C
9. Clayton Kershaw, P

Brewers: With Kershaw going for L.A., the Brewers are employing a righty-heavy lineup Friday.

1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
2. Christian Yelich, RF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Jesus Aguilar, 1B
5. Hernan Perez, 2B
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Manny Pina, C
8. Orlando Arcia, SS
9. Gio Gonzalez, P

Who are the starting pitchers?
Dodgers: After Kershaw in Game 1, the Dodgers will start Hyun-Jin Ryu in Game 2, Walker Buehler in Game 3 and Rich Hill in Game 4. With eight scoreless innings against the Braves in Game 2, Kershaw showed he can still dominate even after losing some fastball velocity. Ryu still relishes the big game. After his seven scoreless innings against the Braves, he has a 1.96 ERA in four postseason starts. Buehler came unglued in a five-run second inning with noisy Atlanta fans helping speed up Game 3 of the NLDS, so management decided to start him at home against the Brewers. He steadied the ship with three more scoreless innings to rest the bullpen. Hill struggled with a tight strike zone in the NLDS clincher, but he’s immune to postseason pressure. The lefty also could be used in relief in the first two games.

Video: Dodgers, Brewers set for Game 1 of the NLCS

Brewers: After tabbing Brandon Woodruff to start a bullpen day in Game 1 of the NLDS, the Brewers had another surprise in store for Game 1 of the NLCS. They are going with Gonzalez, the veteran acquired from the Nationals on Aug. 31 who made five regular-season starts for the Brewers in September but didn’t throw a single pitch in the NLDS against the Rockies. He did not face the Dodgers at all in 2018, and in fact has not faced them since June 5, 2017, for Washington at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers had a .730 OPS against left-handers in ’18 (it increased to .750 after they added Machado at the All-Star break), compared to an NL-best .798 mark against right-handers.

Video: NLCS Gm1: Gonzalez on expectations for Game 1 start

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Dodgers: After a challenging regular season that included coasting in Spring Training, a hamstring injury and another heart scare, Kenley Jansen was back at his best in two appearances against the Braves, which was probably the best of all outcomes in the series. Kenta Maeda is the setup man again this postseason, with Pedro Baez continuing his under-the-radar great comeback and Scott Alexander is the situational lefty. Caleb Ferguson and Alex Wood were the other two lefties, and Ryan Madson and Dylan Floro delivered big outs. Ross Stripling might replace one of the above after making a delivery adjustment to eliminate pitch-tipping that might have contributed to his second-half fade. Roberts also suggested that Josh Fields or Julio Urias could make the roster.

Video: LAD@ATL Gm4: Jansen seals win to send Dodgers to NLCS

Brewers: Milwaukee and Los Angeles rank 1 and 2 in relievers’ ERA since the start of September, led by the Brewers’ sparkling 1.89 — nearly a run better than the rest of the Joe Biagini Jersey  pack. Left-hander Josh Hader and right-hander Jeremy Jeffress were the top options all season, but it was resurgent righty Corey Knebel who won NL Reliever of the Month honors for September after returning from a stint in Triple-A. In 19 scoreless appearances since his return, Knebel has faced 66 batters, allowed five hits, four walks and two hit batsmen while striking out 37. Veteran right-hander Joakim Soria, one of Milwaukee’s midseason trade additions, is the fourth member of the bullpen “A” team, though rookie Corbin Burnes has pitched his way into the group including four scoreless innings in the NLDS. It’s an exceptionally deep group, and the clear strength of a team that led the NL with 96 wins in the regular season.

“We’ve used the word depth a lot, and sometimes you feel like it’s just a buzz word, but in our case, I think it’s really important,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said.

Video: LAD@MIL Gm1: Counsell on dominant Brewers’ bullpen

Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Dodgers: No.

Brewers: No.

Video: MLB Tonight on Brewers’ pitching strategy for NLCS

An Joe Carter Throwback Jersey y injuries of note?
Dodgers: No.

Brewers: No.

Video: LAD@MIL Gm1: Roberts on lack of home field, emotions

Who is hot and who is not?
Dodgers: As a team, the Dodgers batted just .210 in the NLDS, but slugged eight homers, two each by Machado and Muncy. They also drew a staggering 27 walks in the four games, illustrating their approach to stay in the zone, attack strikes or take walks, and pass the baton to the next in line. Bellinger, however, is 0-for-11 in his first postseason action since going 4-for-28 with 17 strikeouts in last year’s World Series. Grandal had one homer, but was hitless his other 12 at-bats. The Dodgers have considered carrying an extra bat like Chase Utley or Kyle Farmer to help combat Milwaukee’s deep bullpen.

Video: LAD@ATL Gm4: Machado crushes a 3-run jack in the 7th

Brewers: Yelich pulled away from the pack of competitors vying for the NL MVP Award with a .770 slugging percentage after the All-Star break, capped by a sensational September that included hitting for a pair of cycles. He kept producing into October, with three hits in Game 163 against the Cubs and a two-run homer in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Rockies. Colorado pitched carefully to Yelich, who had just two hits but walked six times. Milwaukee’s other big offseason acquisition, Cain, was 0-for-10 in the postseason before logging a fifth-inning single in Game 3 against the Rockies. He’ll try to get going in the NLCS; Cain was the ALCS MVP in 2014.

And look out for the 38-year-old catcher Kratz, who was 5-for-8 in his two NLDS starts after becoming the oldest player to start his postseason debut since Lave Cross of the 1905 Philadelphia Athletics.

“You want everybody to go into these four days off feeling really good about themselves,” said Braun, the only player remaining from Milwaukee’s last NLCS entry in 2011. “We know we can be better than we’ve been over the past few games.”

Video: Christian Yelich discusses growing up a Dodgers fan

Anything else fans might want to know?
The Dodgers won the regular-season series between the teams, 4-3, including an entertaining four-game series at Dodger Stadium that straddled the end of July and beginning of August. That series included a 1-0 Brewers win followed by Los Angeles’ extra-inning walk-off, then the 21-run rout. … Milwaukee’s 11-game winning streak — which includes the final eight games of the regular season and an NLDS sweep — is the second-longest in franchise history. The longest belongs to the 1987 “Team Streak”, which set an American League record with a 13-0 start to the year. … With temperatures possibly in the 30s tonight, the roof at Miller Park is expected to be closed.

Video: NLCS Gm1: Counsell discusses handling pitcher usage

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Brewers trades that turned the tea Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey m around

The Brewers had 25 players on the active roster when they swept the Rockies in the National League Division Series, 22 of whom appeared in games. Of those 25, only four were drafted by Milwaukee and never left: pitchers Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, shortstop Orlando Arcia, and outfielder Ryan Braun — and in Braun’s case, it’s now been over 13 years since he was taken fifth overall in the 2005 Draft.

So it goes for Milwaukee, which has completed a turnaround from 94 losses in 2015 and 89 more in ’16 in stunningly quick fashion, in part because general manager David Stearns (and to some extent his predecessor, Doug Melvin, who held the position from 2002-15) has piled moves upon other moves in order to build a roster that enters the National League Championship Series on an 11-game winning streak.

The Brewers had 25 players on the active roster when they swept the Rockies in the National League Division Series, 22 of whom appeared in games. Of those 25, only four were drafted by Milwaukee and never left: pitchers Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff, shortstop Orlando Arcia, and outfielder Ryan Braun — and in Braun’s case, it’s now been over 13 years since he was taken fifth overall in the 2005 Draft.

So it goes for Milwaukee, which has completed a turnaround from 94 losses in 2015 and 89 more in ’16 in stunningly quick fashion, in part because general manager David Stearns (and to some extent his predecessor, Doug Melvin, who held the position from 2002-15) has piled moves upon other moves in order to build a roster that enters the National League Championship Series on an 11-game winning streak.

Of the 30 teams, the Brewers were essentially tied with the A’s for the lowest percentage of Wins Above Replacement provided this year by homegrown players — a grand total of 2 WAR, mostly from Braun. (For context: Mike Trout and Mookie Betts just completed 10-win seasons. All homegrown Brewers combined equaled one-fifth of that.)

Your initial reaction might be to think, “That’s bad. That this is an indictment of a farm system that admittedly hasn’t had much luck with their top Draft picks.” (The only Milwaukee first-rounder drafted since 2009 to make an impact is Mitch Haniger, and he’s done his best work for Seattle.) Perhaps so. Then again, it shows that this isn’t a situation where a small-market team is only succeeding because poor results have led to high Draft picks. It’s that prospects can be just as valuable in terms of who they are traded for as they can be producing for their original team.

The Brewers have built this team via waiver claims, like Jesus Aguilar, Hernan Perez, and Junior Guerra. They’ve signed Major League free agents, like Lorenzo Cain, Wade Miley, Dan Jennings, and Jhoulys Chacin. They’ve signed international (re)imports, like Eric Thames. They’ve made purchases, like Erik Kratz.

Milwaukee has taken risks, too, overstuffing its infield during the season and asking third baseman Travis Shaw to play second base, which he’s done adequately despite his total lack of experience there. But this is really a story about the Brewers’ trades: The ones you know, and the connections you might not realize.

In one sense, it all started when Cain and Jeremy Jeffress first left town, nearly eight years ago. For example, did you know that Cain and Jeffress indirectly played a role in the arrival of Christian Yelich?

Let’s connect the dots.

Dec. 19, 2010: Cain, Jeffress, Alcides Escobar, and Jake Odorizzi traded from the Brewers to the Royals for Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt

This was the trade that formed the nucleus of the 2014-’15 Kansas City pennant winners (Odorizzi went to Tampa Bay as part of the deal to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis), but it’s still being felt in Milwaukee, too, and not just because Cain and Jeffress came back. Greinke gave the Brewers a solid year and a half, but that was just the start of it.

July 27, 2012: Grienke traded from the Brewers to the Angels for Johnny Hellweg, Ariel Pena and Jean Segura

Segura actually didn’t do much for Milwaukee, hitting .266/.302/.361 in parts of four seasons. Hellweg and Pena didn’t do anything at all, really. Still, Segura would provide value to the Brewers in the end regardless. 

Jan. 30, 2016: Segura and Tyler Wagner traded from the Brewers to the D-backs for Isan Diaz, Chase Anderson, and Aaron Hill.

Though Anderson didn’t pitch in the NLDS, he’s been a key member of the rotation over the last three years, giving Milwaukee a 3.71 ERA in 86 games. While Hill wasn’t with the Brewers for long, the name to know there is Diaz.

Aug. 1, 2016: Jeffress and Jonathan Lucroy traded from the Brewers to the Rangers for Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz, and Ryan Cordell

Later that year, Jeffress — who’d returned as a free agent in 2014 and would return yet again in ’17 — and longtime catcher Lucroy were sent to Texas for a trio of prospects. Lucroy is on his third team since leaving the Brewers and has never hit like he did in Milwaukee. Cordell was traded in 2017 for Anthony Swarzak, who was fantastic down the stretch last year, but now you know where Brinson came from, and now you know where Diaz came from, and that’s about to be a big deal when you remember who went into the biggest trade the Brewers have made yet. 

Jan. 25, 2018: Diaz, Brinson, Monte Harrison and Jordan Yamamoto traded from the Brewers to t Joe Biagini Blue Jays Jersey he Marlins for Yelich

Yelich is almost certainly going to win the National League Most Valuable Player Award, and his contract runs through 2022, if the Brewers exercise a team option that will see him make less than $13 million per year in that span. It cost them two of their homegrown prospects and two others acquired via trade, and given the early struggles of Harrison and Brinson, it looks like this could potentially go down as a heist.

Video: COL@MIL Gm1: Yelich cranks 2-run homer in 3rd

Before we move on, remember Ortiz, who also arrived in the Lucroy deal? He came in handy, as well.

July 31, 2018: Ortiz, Jonathan Villar, and Jean Carmona traded from the Brewers to the Orioles for Jonathan Schoop

Schoop hasn’t done much for Milwaukee, it should be noted, and he received only two plate appearances in the NLDS, though he was an All-Star for the Orioles in 2017. For now, he’s an infield depth piece and potentially a starting option in 2019 and came at the cost of Ortiz, Carmona, and Villar, himself acquired via trade from Houston for Cy Sneed in 2015. 

Speaking of trades with Houston, this 2015 deal, often mistakenly credited to Stearns but actually one of Melvin’s final moves, has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving. (Stearns played a role, however; he was the Astros assistant GM at the time.)

July 30, 2015: Brewers traded Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to Astros for Josh Hader, Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana, and Adrian Houser

This one happened only a couple of days after the infamously canceled trade that would have sent Gomez to the Mets for Wilmer Flores and Zack Wheeler. While Wheeler blossomed into an ace this year, it’s incredible to think how different the Brewers would feel without Hader. (Not to mention that the Mets wouldn’t have then traded Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa for Yoenis Cespedes, and then the Tigers wouldn’t have had Cessa to move with Chad Green for Justin Wilson, who then went to Chicago for Jeimer Candelario, and so on.)  

Obviously, Hader has become one of the most feared relievers in baseball, and Santana showed he can be an above-average power hitter, though the arrival of Cain and Yelich bumped him from the lineup in 2018. For the same reason, Phillips got only 122 Milwaukee plate appearances in 2017-’18, until he helped in a different way.

July 27, 2018: Brewers trade Phillips and Jorge Lopez to Royals for Mike Moustakas

Moustakas has done for the Brewers exactly what he’s always done, which is to say be a roughly league-average player with a decent glove and good power who is somewhat limited by on-base skills. More importantly, by pushing Shaw to second, he’s given the lineup another solid bat, as Shaw took the spot of Villar, who had hit only .261/.315/.377.

So those are the big, inter-connected trades; here are several others that stand alone and have had an impact.

Video: COL@MIL Gm 2: Counsell on Moustakas’ play in the NLDS

Jan. 19, 2015: Brewers trade Yovani Gallardo to Rangers for Corey Knebel, Luis Sardinas, and Marcos Diplan

Gallardo had been Milwaukee’s ace for years, and only five pitchers have ever started more games for the Brewers. At the time of the trade, Knebel was coming off an elbow injury and an unimpressive debut; now, he’s spent the last two years in high leverage innings for the Brewers. After briefly struggling in August, he struck out 33 in 16 games in September, allowing zero runs. 

Knebel had originally been a Tigers  Joe Carter Throwback Jersey draftee and had been traded to Texas in July of 2014 for … Joakim Soria, now his teammate in Milwaukee after Stearns picked him up from the White Sox in July. 

July 31, 2015: Brewers trade Gerardo Parra to Orioles for Zach Davies

This one is both good (Davies has made 80 starts for the Brewers, and Parra was an easily replaceable veteran) and bad (Parra had originally been acquired for Haniger and Anthony Banda, a Melvin trade that doesn’t look so good right now).

Stearns was hired that September. In December, he set about making his mark.

Dec. 9, 2015: Brewers trade Adam Lind to Mariners for Freddy Peralta, Carlos Herrera, and Daniel Missaki.

Lind had had a nice season for the Brewers in 2015, but it’s not hard to find defensively limited first basemen with power — they’d find just that with Chris Carter in 2016 — and the prize of this deal ended up being Peralta, who had a shockingly effective partial rookie season in 2018 and doesn’t turn 23 until next June. 

Dec. 10, 2015: Brewers acquire Manny Pina as player to be named from a November trade that sent Francisco Rodriguez to Tigers.

Pina has been a competent hitter as a backup catcher, and he’s developed a reputation as a strong catcher thanks to his elite pop time.  

Dec. 17, 2015: Brewers send Jason Rogers to Pirates for Keon Broxton and Trey Supak.

Broxton has had an up-and-down Milwaukee career. He did hit 20 homers and steal 21 bases with very good defense in 2017, but an inflated strikeout rate led to him spending much of 2018 in Triple-A. But he did help finish off the Rockies with a home run off Wade Davis, while Rogers had two hits for Pittsburgh and wasn’t in affiliated ball in 2018. Trade won.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Broxton mashes 106.4-mph, 429-ft. homer

Dec. 6, 2016: Brewers trade Tyler Thornburg to Red Sox for Shaw, Mauricio Dubon, and Josh Pennington.

Shaw was a relatively unheralded young player coming off a below-average season in 2016. It’s safe to say he’s been somewhat more than that for Milwaukee, hitting 63 homers in two seasons and seamlessly moving around the diamond. Thornburg rarely stayed healthy for the Brewers and hasn’t for the Red Sox either. Dubon, by the way, currently ranks as Milwaukee’s No. 7 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

It hasn’t always worked out, of course. Milwaukee might wish it still had Haniger, Khris Davis, Scooter Gennett, Will Smith or Ji-Man Choi, all ex-Brewers who found success elsewhere in 2018. Your batting average on moves is never going to be 1.000. They don’t have to be. You just have to hit on more than you miss. So far, so good on that.

Stearns, and Melvin before him, have been aggressive in the right ways. They gambled that Cain would continue to be a star Joe Carter Jersey , and he was. They didn’t overextend on risky free-agent starters Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Yu Darvish, or Lance Lynn, despite the injury to Jimmy Nelson. They signed Chacin and Miley, they traded for Gio Gonzalez, and it’s mostly worked out. 

The Brewers are headed to only their second LCS since reaching the World Series in 1982. It’s not all about Stearns, obviously. It’s just hard to see them getting this far without the aggressive moves he’s made.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.


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