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The Los Angeles Dodgers have to overcome a new foe from the National League Central to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row.
After battling with the Chicago Cubs for the last two seasons in the NLCS, the Dodgers take on the Milwaukee Brewers with the right to play either the Boston Red Sox or Houston Astros in the World Series on the line.
The Dodgers are hoping to clinch their 20th World Series appearance in franchise history, but the Brewers are more than willing to put up a fight and earn a return to the championship series for the first time since 1982.
The series between the pair of division winners will be tight across the board, as both sides possess powerful lineups and impressive pitching staffs, but there will be a few players who shine the brightest and emerge as difference makers over seven games.
All times ET.
Game 1: Friday, October 12 at Milwaukee (8:09 p.m., FS1)
Game 2: Saturday, October 13 at Milwaukee (4:09 p.m., Fox)
Game 3: Monday, October 15 at Los Angeles (7:39 p.m., FS1)
Game 4: Tuesday, October 16 at Los Angeles (9:09 p.m., FS1)
Game 5: Wednesday, October 17 at Los Angeles (5:05 p.m., FS1)*
Game 6: Friday, October 19 at Milwaukee (8:39 p.m., FS1)*
Game 7: Saturday, October 20 at Milwaukee (9:09 p.m., FS1)*
Odds (via OddsShark)
Game 1: Los Angeles (-140; Bet $140 to win $100); Milwaukee (+130; Bet $100 to win $140)
All available tickets for each game of the NLCS can be found on StubHub.
Moustakas Turns Into Milwaukee’s Most Important Player
Mike Moustakas is one of the few players on the Milwaukee roster with World Series experience.
In the 2015 World Series, Moustakas hit .304 for the Kansas City Royals after driving in five runs during the ALCS.
Moustakas was one of the Brewers’ top hitters in the NLDS, and he’ll extend that hot streak at the plate into the NLCS.
Dylan Buell/Getty Images
The third baseman recorded four hits in 11 at-bats against the Colorado Rockies from a spot in the order beneath Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun, who are seen as the top threats in the lineup.
With a handful of heavy hitters in front of him in the lineup, Moustakas will have the opportunity to drive in runs and extend rallies against the Dodgers pitching staff.
Moustakas’ form at the plate shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as he was one of Milwaukee’s most consistent players at the dish in September.
The midseason acquisition had a hit in eight of the final 10 regular-season games and he produced 14 RBI in September.
Buehler Emerges As X-Factor On Dodgers’ Staff
Walker Buehler might not get the ball until Game 3 if the Dodgers follow their rotation from the NLDS, but when he does he’ll turn the series in the Dodgers’ favor.
Clayton Kershaw is slated to start Game 1 and Hyun-Jin Ryu should be able to go for Game 2 on extended rest, which means Buehler would open up the team’s NLCS home slate.
Buehler was roughed up by the Atlanta Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS, as he gave up five earned runs over five innings.
Harry How/Getty Images
Despite the tough outing, Buehler still struck out seven batters, and the Dodgers hope his form from after the All-Star break carries over into the NLCS and erases the NLDS performance from his mind.
In 14 regular-season starts since July, including the NL West tiebreaker against the Rockies, Buehler gave up five earned runs twice.
In September, Buehler conceded seven earned runs over six starts, with his masterpiece coming in the September 19 win over the Rockies in which he fanned 12.
Buehler’s last four home starts have been outstanding, as he’s let up a single earned run, which is why the Dodgers should start him in Game 3 to pull back any lost momentum from the opening games in Milwaukee.
The 24-year-old’s performance in Game 3 will warrant another start, or an extended appearance in relief, as the Dodgers attempt to keep the Brewers off balance at the plate.
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Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.