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Milwaukee Brewers: Why Gio and Miley makes sense in NLCS

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MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 04: Wade Miley #20 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts in the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park on September 4, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - SEPTEMBER 04: Wade Miley #20 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts in the sixth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park on September 4, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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On Thursday, the Milwaukee Brewers announced their pitching rotation for the first three games of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Once again many were surprised by manager Craig Counsell‘s decision to start Gio Gonzalez and Wade Miley during the first two games, but this plays perfectly into the Brewers matchup against the Dodgers.

Like many fans, I was one who thought that the Milwaukee Brewers would start Jhoulys Chacin in game one of the NLCS. He was the Brewers best and most consistent starter all season and he hadn’t pitched since last Friday, so we know he is well rested.

However, just like Counsell and GM David Stearns have done all season long, they are using their analytics and playing the matchups. And if we take a deeper look, having two left-handed starters on the mound for Milwaukee, could be the perfect recipe for early success in the series.

Dodgers vs. Left Handed Pitching

This Dodgers offense has been inconsistent at times throughout 2018 but one thing they do not lack is explosiveness. L.A. led the NL in runs, home runs, total bases as well as a few other offensive categories this season.

But their lineup has had issues when facing left-handed pitching this year, in fact their offensive production drops drastically. Below is the Dodgers stats in key offensive categories on the season against left-handed pitching (LHP) and right-handed pitching (RHP).

Runs

237 (LHP) – 567 (RHP)

Hits

453 (LHP) – 941 (RHP)

Home Runs

67 (LHP) – 168 (RHP)

Batting Average

.240 (LHP) – .255 (RHP)

Total Bases

773 (LHP) – 1,688 (RHP)

A big reason for this discrepancy is because of the lineups that the Dodgers utilize when facing lefties or righties. Against right-handed pitching, L.A. will have Joc Pederson, Max Muncy and Yasiel Puig in their lineup, three big bats and excellent run producers.

But when facing a lefty, they’ll often use Matt Kemp, Chris Taylor and David Freese. Three very capable batters, but they don’t have the firepower of the other lineup.

Importance of NLCS Games 1 and 2

The Brewers do have home field advantage, but with how the playoff format is set up, there is no guarantee they will be able to close out the series in Miller Park. With the setup of 2 games in Milwaukee, 3 in L.A. and the last 2 in Milwaukee, one loss at home could lead to the NLCS ending in L.A.

All of the games in a playoff series are important, but it is absolutely critical for the Brewers to have success in the first two games. Given the Dodgers struggles against left-handed pitching, Gio Gonzalez and Wade Miley give the Milwaukee Brewers the best chances to take Games One and Two at Miller Park.

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Although the pitching rotation for the first three games came as a surprise to many, it is exactly what Counsell has been doing all season long. Putting the best team out there to matchup with the opponent and as we can see, that is exactly what manager Craig Counsell and GM David Stearns did.

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