The NLCS rosters are not due until Friday morning but on Thursday evening, Dave Roberts revealed the order the Dodgers’ rotation will pitch in.
The Dodgers are not forced to unveil their full NLCS roster until tomorrow morning but Dave Roberts did announce which order the starting rotation will pitch in. The Dodgers rotation order is almost identical to the NLDS rotation except Hyun-Jin Ryu will go game two and Clayton Kershaw will toe the rubber in game one tomorrow night.
There had been some thought that the Dodgers would save Ryu until game three since he posted an ERA of 1.15 at Dodger Stadium this season. Instead, the Dodgers would rather let Walker Buehler pitch at Dodger Stadium in game three since his first playoff start on the road was one to forget. The friendly confines of Chavez Ravine should help Buehler settle in.
The move to not save Ryu until game three is the right move since Hyun-Jin Ryu has been one of the best starting pitchers for the Dodgers this season, pitching better than even Clayton Kershaw when he’s been healthy. The ball can fly out of Miller Park as it’s a hitters haven but Ryu has a very good changeup that should induce plenty of weak contact. Ryu allowed an average exit velocity of 86 mph this season which is two miles less than the MLB average.
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Rich Hill will follow Buehler in the order and pitch game four in Los Angeles. Hill had an up and down first postseason start but he kept the Dodgers in the game enabling them to battle back later in the game. Hill started against the Brewers twice this season and posted a stellar 1.50 ERA against them.
With the format of the NLCS being 2-3-2, Clayton Kershaw will get a home start in game five if necessary. That would leave Ryu and Buehler lined up for games six and seven in Milwaukee if the series goes that long. That means that Rich Hill is only going to get one start in the NLCS and he could be available out of the bullpen for games six and seven if needed.
The Brewers announced the first three starters for them and it will be Gio Gonzalez, Wade Miley, and Jhoulys Chacin. On paper, the Dodgers have the advantage in the first three games. It’s up to them to take advantage of their starting rotation that is stronger than the Brewers. Game four could be a bullpen game for the Brewers and in any of the games, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Brewers take their starter out early.
The NLCS will kick off tomorrow at 5:07 PM PST and Clayton Kershaw will look to give the Dodgers a 1-0 series lead and put a dent into the Brewers’ home field advantage. The Dodgers need to win at least one of the first two games so they could return to Los Angeles for three straight games and try to take a commanding lead in the NLCS.