Over the last few days, the Brewers and Nationals have secured opportunities to face the Dodgers in the NLDS and both have one red hot hitter carrying them.
For Milwaukee, it’s quite possibly the most hated player amongst veteran Dodger fans and an LA native, Ryan Braun. The veteran outfielder is despised for when he stole the 2011 NL MVP award from Matt Kemp thanks to his controversial use of PEDs. Braun has cooled off considerably since the early 2010s, but in recent weeks he’s been scorching.
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In what’s been his best year since 2016, Braun has smacked 21 home runs (including a shot last night to help the Brew Crew clinch a playoff spot), to go along with 11 steals and a .283 AVG. He’s been even better of late. Braun has five doubles, three home runs, and 13 RBI in September to this point with a .250/.317/.500 triple-slash line.
Since Christian Yelich’s devastating knee injury on Tuesday, Sept. 10, Braun has hit better than any other Brewer, putting together a Yelich-like stretch in the new face of the franchise’s absence. He’s got a .297/.350/.649 triple-slash line and has 18 runs+RBI with three home runs, second only to Mike Moustakas’ 19 and four, respectively.
For Washington, it’s been a former Dodger Howie Kendrick. In a utility role similar to that of Hunter Pence’s with the Rangers, Kendrick lacks the plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, but he has a .344 average in 362 ABs this season with 16 home runs and a 7.5% walk rate.
In the time frame since Yelich’s departure, the same I used for Braun, Kendrick has hit .428 with two home runs, turning himself into a staple in the order over another former Dodger second baseman Brian Dozier.
If the Dodgers end up facing one of these two hitters while they’re still hot, they’ll be hard-pressed to slow them down.