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Division Series Day 1 Preview

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NLDS Game 1s Go Today

MLB: NLDS-Workouts Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 Playoffs continue their trek towards determining the World Series Champion. Today is the start of the Division Series, or quarterfinals for the layperson, as we look to whittle the field from 8 down to 4 over the next week. Today starts with a pair of games from our friends in the National League, as Wild Card winners the Colorado Rockies head to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers at 5:07 ET, while the Atlanta Braves head to Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers at 8:37 ET.

Rockies-Brewers Pitching Matchup

Starting for the visiting Rockies will be right hander Antonio Senzatela. Senzatela had an uninspiring sophomore season, going 6-6 with a 4.38 ERA. He isn’t one to strike many out, averaging less than 7 K/9 in both of his seasons thus far. He does a decent job limiting walks though, as he allowed 30 in 90.1 innings, a mark slightly better than average. But there really isn’t anything here that screams stud, which means that the Rockies will be looking to win with their bats in this one.

The Brewers are looking to use an Opener today, for whatever reason. If this fails today, it’s likely another major blow against the concept after Liam Hendriks allowed a pair of runs yesterday. I don’t disagree with the concept, but if you’re going with a reliever to face the top of the order, use one of your better ones, like the Rays do with Ryne Stanek. Anyway, following the Brewers’ opener with be a train of good relievers, including Josh Hader who is likely to be the most feared reliever this postseason, leading up to closer Jeremy Jeffress. There will be a lot of pitching changes on the Brewers’ side today.

Rockies-Brewers Lineups

Once again, MLB.com is predicting lineups for me, so this is a lot easier on me. I’ll throw their 2018 wRC+ from Fangraphs afterwards as well.

Rockies

CF Charlie Blackmon - 116
2B DJ LeMahieu - 86
LF David Dahl - 109
3B Nolan Arenado - 132
SS Trevor Story - 127
RF Carlos Gonzalez - 96
1B Ian Desmond - 81
C Chris Ianetta - 84
P Antonio Senzatela - (-70)

It still makes me sad that they never went out and added a great first baseman, like a Justin Smoak. A first baseman who is hitting at just an 81 wRC+ is rather pathetic. It’s such an easy place to upgrade. But even with a weak 1B, and partly due to them playing in Coors Field half the time, they scored the second most runs in the NL at 4.79 per game.

Brewers

CF Lorenzo Cain - 124
RF Christian Yelich - 166
LF Ryan Braun - 105
2B Travis Shaw - 119
1B Jesus Aguilar - 134
3B Mike Moustakas - 103
C Erik Kratz - 70
SS Orlando Arcia - 54
P Will Never-Bat

Old friends Curtis Granderson and Eric Thames are on the bench, and will be some of the first ones called upon when that pitcher’s spot comes around.

I totally forgot that they added Mike Moustakas and pushed Travis Shaw over to 2B. Props to him for not being terrible there, as he put up just -1 DRS and -1.5 UZR in 268 innings with 0 professional experience there.

Overall, the Brewers were right in the middle of the NL in runs scored, finishing 7th with a 4.63 average.


Braves-Dodgers Pitching Matchup

Going for the Braves will be right hander Mike Foltynewicz. In 31 games this season, Folty went 13-10 with a very good 2.85 ERA, although about half a run better than his 3.37 FIP. He saw an uptick in strikeouts this year, getting up over one per inning at 9.93 per 9, and crossing the 200 threshold on the season. The walks remained elevated a bit though, as he allowed 3.34 per 9 innings, just a tad more than league average. But where the real improvement came was in the home run department. Prior to this season, his lowest HR/9 total was the 1.17 mark he put up last season. This year it is down to 0.84, as he allowed 3 fewer home runs in 29 more innings than this past season. That will definitely help drop his ERA.

The Dodgers will send lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu to the mound, pushing Clayton Kershaw back another day even though he would be on normal rest for this one. Ryu fought through an injury shortened campaign, but did well when he was on the mound. In 15 starts, he logged just 82.1 innings, but was 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA. The FIP isn’t quite as shiny, sitting at an even 3.00, but it’s certainly still an impressive mark. He struck out a career high 9.73 batters per 9 while walking a career low 1.64 per 9, which is a great way to go about pitching. His somewhat groundball tendencies led him to just under 1 home run allowed per 9 innings, comfortably better than league average.

Braves-Dodgers Lineups

MLB.com gives us their predictions for this one too, and I’ll add their 2018 wRC+ from Fangraphs as well.

Braves

LF Ronald Acuña Jr - 143
3B Johan Camargo - 113
1B Freddie Freeman - 137
RF Nick Markakis - 114
C Kurt Suzuki - 108
2B Ozzie Albies - 100
CF Ender Inciarte - 90
SS Charlie Culberson - 108
P Mike Foltynewicz - (-81)

Starting SS Dansby Swanson has a torn ligament in his left hand and is out for at least the series, so that’s unfortunate. Otherwise this is a pretty healthy and solid lineup. They were 5th in the NL in runs scored at 4.69 per game.

Dodgers

LF Joc Pederson - 126
3B Justin Turner - 154
1B Max Muncy - 162
SS Manny Machado - 140
C Yasmani Grandal - 125
CF Cody Bellinger - 120
RF Yasiel Puig - 123
2B Enrique Hernandez - 118
P Hyun-Jin Ryu - 78

Damn. The lowest wRC+ is 118 for the starting 8, and all of them did it in at least 426 PA, so its not a small sample size victory here either. This is a powerhouse team that added Manny Machado when their star SS Corey Seager went down for the year. They paced the NL with 4.93 runs per game.

Find the Link

Find the link between Folty and Yelich.