It’s now official. The Milwaukee Brewers will face off against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS for the right to go to the World Series.
You could not find two more opposite teams to play each other for the National League pennant if you tried.
The Milwaukee Brewers come from the smallest market in baseball with a payroll hovering just over $100 million. The Los Angeles Dodgers come from one of the largest markets in the country with a payroll of $194 million. Over the past several years their payroll has been well north of $200 million but dropped down this year to reset their luxury tax.
This is the Dodgers fourth NLCS in the last six years. This is the Brewers third LCS in franchise history and first postseason appearance in seven years.
The Dodgers are a historic franchise, with several World Series titles to their name, and some of the sport’s biggest names in the Hall of Fame wearing a Dodgers hat. The Brewers are still searching for their first title and first berth to the Fall Classic since 1982. The Dodgers were there just last year.
The Brewers built their pitching staff around a dominant bullpen while the Dodgers built theirs around a star-studded rotation. Guys like Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler will strike fear into hitters more than a Jhoulys Chacin or a Wade Miley.
There are some similarities between these two teams, but not many. Both won over 90 games and won their respective divisions and took it to a tie-breaking Game 163 to clinch it.
I think the biggest difference between these two teams is the expectations that have been placed on them. The Dodgers took it to seven games against the Astros in the World Series last year and lost, on home turf no less. Dodgers fans and executives have the mindset of ‘World Series or Bust’. They were expected to get to this point.
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The Brewers were not. Many Brewers fans had the dream and there was obviously reasons to like their chances of making a run in the playoffs, but this certainly wasn’t expected of them. They were expected to improve and make the playoffs, but most fans did not have a championship or bust mentality.
The Dodgers have those expectations weighing on them. The Brewers, meanwhile, are playing free and loose and are having a ton of fun doing it. This is not to say the Dodgers players aren’t having fun, but when this kind of success is expected of you, it’s a little different feeling.
What This Series Means
This is the epitome of a David vs. Goliath matchup. The big market, big spending team against the small market, rebuilding process, low budget team in a best-of-seven series. A lot of national pundits picked the Dodgers to make the World Series at the beginning of the season. Very few, if any, picked the Brewers.
What does a $200 million payroll mean if it can’t beat out a $100 million payroll?
If the Dodgers fail, they can go and pick up Bryce Harper or sign Manny Machado long term. They can pay just about any player on the market. The Brewers would continue to pick up guys like Jesus Aguilar and Erik Kratz and get just as good of production as the guys making eight-figures every year.
This will not be easy for either team. It’s going to be a tough, long battle. I don’t know who will come out on top, but with how this Brewers team has played, no one should count them out. It’s October, and it’s postseason baseball. Anything can happen.
The Milwaukee Brewers have home field advantage for this series and that could prove to be the difference maker. If they can take both of the first games at home, they’re going to be in great shape for the rest of the series.