NLCS: Breaking Down The Brewers Lineup
The 2018 Milwaukee Brewers have been a whole lot of fun to watch. The Brew Crew’s success lies on the shoulders of guys like Lorenzo Cain, slugger Jesus Aguilar, and most notably, MVP candidate Christian Yelich. This well-rounded lineup is the most consistent lineup in all of baseball.
Where It All Started
I believe that the most important element any successful sports organization begins with the front office. The front office completed a bevy of moves not only in the offseason, but before the deadline as well. The 2017 Milwaukee Brewers finished in second place in the NL Central behind the defending World Series Champs. Finishing with a record of 86-76, the Brew Crew knew how close they were to becoming a legit playoff contender.
The 2017/2018 winter was a busy season for the Milwaukee Brewers front office. On January 25th, the Brewers made their first big splash of the offseason. It was official, Christian Yelich is headed to Milwaukee. Lewis Brinson, one of the Brewers great young players, was one of the four headed to South Beach in the deal. The cannonball-like aggression of the front office showed no signs of slowing down.
Within twenty-four hours of the Yelich deal, it was announced that the Brewers have signed free agent OF Lorenzo Cain. The deal was worth $80 million spread out over five years. During the final week of the trade deadline, acquiring players such as Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop have also been a healthy boost.
Brewers vs. LHP
The Dodgers announced earlier this week that Clayton Kershaw will start game one of the NLCS in Milwaukee. Kershaw will be on six days of rest, and we all know he well he throws on an extra day or two of rest. Compared to the lineup the Braves offered, this Milwaukee is a whole new monster. Christian Yelich is possibly the most dangerous and balanced hitter in all of baseball. Any mistake made by the opposition will result in Yelich taking advantage.
Yelich and Kershaw have faced each other a handful of times in their respected careers. Yelich is 9-17, 2 home runs, along with 5 strikeouts lifetime against the tricky southpaw. Despite hitting from the left side, Yelich does not fear the lefty pitchers. Believe it or not, he actually holds a better average against lefties this year. So, how do the Dodgers stop Christian Yelich? Read about it here.
Sorry, I’m still trying to wrap my head around Yelich and his devious ways. Anyways, let’s get back to the Brewers lineup. As a team, Milwaukee has as .254 average along with 52 home runs. Aside from Yelich, Lorenzo Cain is without a doubt the second best hitter against lefties. This season alone in 142 at-bats, Cain hit .373, .451 OBP, along with 4 home runs and 20 walks. Obviously not a small sample size here. Lorenzo Cain feasts against lefties. Kershaw and Ryu must be very careful and think twice before being overly aggressive against this lineup.
Here are the Brewers LHP/RHP splits:
Brewers vs. RHP
The Brew Crew have faced a right-handed pitcher in every single game this season. One of the stats here that stand out to me are the stolen bases with a righty on the mound. The Brewers have swiped 91 bags this season. They are 4th in baseball with 124 total stolen bases. Unlike a lefty, the right hander cannot see what type of lead the runner has. Taking advantage of any pitchers slow delivery is such an under-rated part of the game. When I think slow delivery, the first Dodger that comes to mind is Kenley Jansen.
Let’s think possible scenario here. Game one in Milwaukee, Dodgers lead 3-2 in the bottom of the 9th. Lorenzo Cain, 30 stolen bases, leads off the 9th with a walk. Miller Park is going nuts and Jansen is officially in a hole. You can’t tell me the possibility of stealing second base hasn’t crossed Counsell’s mind. That’s definitely something for the Dodgers staff to keep in mind. Like a noted before, this team will take advantage of the opposition’s mistakes.
As far as bench depth goes, the favor is without a doubt on the Dodgers side. When not in the starting lineup, guys such as Muncy, Taylor, Freese, Kemp and others have the ability to step in and make a difference. The Brewers may not be as deep as the Dodgers, but the few that come off the bench are potential game-changers.
This is the lineup that the Brewers threw out there in Game 3 in Colorado. Lefty Tyler Anderson was on the mound that afternoon for the Rockies:
- Lorenzo Cain (R) CF
- Christian Yelich (L) RF
- Ryan Braun (R) LF
- Jesus Aguilar (R) 1B
- Mike Moustakas (L) 3B
- Hernan Perez (R) 2B
- Travis Shaw (L) 1B
- Erik Kratz (R) C
- Jhoulys Chacin (R) P
While we’ve seen the quality production of Yelich and Cain, there are a few others guys that I may have looked over. Veterans like Mike Moustakas and Ryan Braun are also included in this jam-packed lineup the Brewers offer. Braun has been nothing but spectacular in his impressive twelve year career. Ryan Braun is a life-time .299 hitter that has jacked out 322 long balls. He won (stole) the 2011 NL MVP (from my boy Matt Kemp) after hitting .322. Braun has waited for his entire career for a support system in guys like Yelich and Cain.
Jesus Aguilar is the strongest guy in this Milwaukee lineup. His 35 home runs have been a healthy push for the Brewers. His second half of the season was definitely not one to remember. He took the baseball world by storm, hitting 24 bombs along with his very strong .298 average. That let him to his first All-Star team in his young career. Now I’m no believer of the Home Run Derby ruining players’ swings, but Aguilar struggle mightily in the second half of the season. He hit just .245 and cranked out 11 home runs, less than half of the home runs compared to the first half surge.
This balanced and well-rounded lineup can hit you from all angles. From speed, to the under-rated power, to Yelich taking over, there are so many valuable assets on this team. Hitting with runners in scoring position has been one of the big down sides for the Dodgers this year. With runners in scoring position, the Dodgers are hitting .253 with 506 RBI’s and 43 long balls.
Now let’s look on the other side of the field. The Brewers are hitting .246 with 484 RBI’s. As tough of a time the Dodgers have had with RISP, Milwaukee has actually been surprisingly worse. Here’s another shock, the Brewers have more home runs with runners in scoring position, with 52 jacks.
The Brewers will face two lefties on back-to-back days. Christian Yelich is licking his chops and both Kershaw and Ryu must be very cautious. Knowing Clayton and his competitive mentality, he’ll want to attack each and every dangerous hitter in the lineup. It’ll be interesting to see how well they stack up against the Dodgers starting staff and relentless bullpen.
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