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Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesThe Milwaukee Brewers defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Friday night at Miller Park in Milwaukee.Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw had a night to forget. He exited the game in the fourth inning after allowing four earned runs on six hits.Lorenzo Cain set the tone for the Brewers offense at the top of the order , going 3-for-5 with one run scored.Brewers' Bullpen Approach Works in Game 1 But Remains Risky over Seven-Game SeriesBrewers manager Craig Counsell has taken the "bullpenning" approach to the extreme.Jhoulys Chacin was the only Milwaukee starter to pitch five innings in the National League Division Series against the Colorado Rockies.Counsell yanked Game 1 starter Gio Gonzalez after just two innings Friday night.Counsell then brought on left-hander Josh Hader in the fifth inning, well before anybody would've expected the All-Star reliever to enter the game.Tom HaudricourtJosh Hader on to pitch fifth. Counsell giving Dodgers lots to think about. Lefty Gonzalez. Righty Woodruff. Now lefty Hader. Lots of different looks.Game 1 represented an almost ideal situation for Counsell to deploy his strategy. A Manny Machado solo home run gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but the Brewers plated two runs in the third.By taking an early lead, Milwaukee allowed Counsell more flexibility with the bullpen.JJ Cooper jjcoop36Said on our preview podcast that if the Brewers were even after five they were leavin. Three run lead with Hader, Jeffess and Knebel rested is pretty much ideal scenario.Still, the jury is out as to whether relying so heavily on the relievers is sustainable over a seven-game playoff series. In addition to tiring out pitchers who aren't used to such heavy workloads, the Brewers could jeopardize one of the benefits to using late-inning specialists.Buster Olney Buster_ESPNInteresting that the Dodgers staff thinks that getting into the Milwaukee bullpen early will become an advantage over a seven-game series, because of tiring relievers. Some Astros staffers believe thats how they won the World Series vs. LAD--an LAD staff worn down over 7 gamesAnd by being so aggressive with Hader鈥攗sing him for three innings鈥擟ounsell basically ruled him out for Game 2. In a high-leverage situation Saturday,Counsell might rue the fact that he has to either rest Hader or put him on the mound when he'll almost certainly be fatigued. Kershaw's Poor Start Emblematic of Star's Gradual DeclineEntering Friday, Kershaw had a 4.08 ERA in 25 playoff appearances, so his Game 1 performance strengthens the narrative鈥攆air or not鈥攖hat he's unable to rise to the occasion in October.That viewpoint may not tell the full story this time around.Eno Sarris enosarrisI feel like early poor showings for Kershaw in postseason were just random and now his stuff is not as good and he鈥檒l just get creamed by the narrative between those two factsAlthough Kershaw's defense did him no favors, he wasn't sharp to open the NLCS.Andrew Simon AndrewSimonMLBAll six hits Clayton Kershaw allowed were right over the heart of the plate.(The ones on the edges are a sac fly and the catchers interference). ZqOwlCSp8PJoe Sheehan joe_sheehanKershaw: 26 two-strike pitches, two strikeouts. #dodgers Derek Holland Jersey , #BrewersWhen Brewers reliever Brandon Woodruff is going deep off Kershaw, something isn't working.BYU鈥檚 Cosmo the Cougar Is the Next Superstar MascotJoshua Johnson Is HS Footballs Quadruple ThreatThe Champions x Queer EyeHappy 26th Birthday to OBJ 馃帀Happy Anniversary to the Cubs Curse-BreakingD-Rose Turned Back the Clock and Put Up 50Will Drake鈥檚 Favorite Teams Reverse the 6 God Curse?Sports Worlds Halloween Costumes Went HardUp Your Halloween Game with Giant Pumpkin RegattaThe Champions: Episode 6 Is ComingDubs Trolled Fergie So Hard It Became a ChallengePurdue Footballs No. 1 Fan Is Inspiring the TeamOne Road to MLB Starts with a Bottle Cap and BroomstickIts Been a Wild Month with Flyers鈥?Mascot Gritty馃専The Champions: Episode 5 馃専CP3-Rondo Blowup Was a Long Time ComingMahomes Is Showtime Off the Field TooCFBs Creative Entrances Put WWE to ShameWorld Pole Climbing Championships Are Something ElseNBA Let Players Know They Have to Cover Branded TattoosRight Arrow IconKershaw turns 31 in March, which isn't that old. However, he already has 11 years of MLB service and has logged 2,229.1 innings between the regular season and playoffs. Then you throw in the persistent injury issues that have dogged him for three straight years, and his future isn't so straightforward.Kershaw finished with a 3.19 FIP and averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings this past season, both of which were his worst marks since his rookie year in 2008, perBaseball Reference.The seven-time All-Star delivered a gem in the NLDS, shutting out the Atlanta Braves and limiting them to two hits in eight innings. On his best day, Kershaw remains one of the game's top pitchers.But fans might be witnessing thebeginning of the endof Kershaw's time as MLB's pre-eminent ace, and it might be time to reset what we expect of him in the playoffs. Catcher Position Might Be Big Problem for DodgersYasmani Grandal tied for third in WAR (3.6) among Dodgers position players in 2018, perFanGraphs,and his defense accounted for a good chunk of his overall value. According toBaseball Prospectus Buster Posey Jersey , Grandal was the best catcher in adjusted field runs above average.That great defender was nowhere to be seen early in Game 1.Grandal allowed two passed balls in the first three innings, and he helped set up Milwaukee's second run of the night.With one out in the third, Jesus Aguilar lined out to David Freese at first base. The home plate umpire allowed Aguilar to take first, though, after ruling Grandal interfered with his swing.Instead of Kershaw having two outs and runners on second and third, the bases were loaded with just one out.Hernan Perez stepped to the plate next and hit a sacrifice fly to center field to give Milwaukee the lead.Norman Chad NormanChadYasmani Grandal鈥檚 third inning: passed ball, catcher鈥檚 interference, error.Is that a hat trick or fielding for the cycle?Ben Maller benmallerYasmani Grandal became first catcher in MLB postseason history with 2 passes balls and 2 errors in same game. More impressive, he accomplished both in first three innings. #DodgersThe issue for the Dodgers is they don't have a good alternative to playing Grandal.Austin Barnes, who does have some October experience, would be the option.Matthew Pouliot matthewpouliotEasily forgotten now, but Austin Barnes started 13 postseason games, including the final eight , over Grandal last year.But Barnes was a .205 hitter and slugged .290 during the regular season, compared to .289 and .486, respectively, a year ago. The Dodgers can't afford to start a hitter with such a low ceiling, even with a lineup as balanced as theirs.While Grandal won't single-handedly lose the Dodgers the NLCS, he does appear to be a liability.What's Next?The series stays in Milwaukee for Game 2. First pitch is scheduled for 4:09 p.m. ET on Saturday, with television coverage on Fox. CLEVELAND — The American League Central champion Cleveland Indians will host the AL East champion Boston Red Sox on Sunday night in the finale of a three-game series between clubs that could meet in the AL Championship Series.Cleveland will likely play Houston in the Division Series, and the Red Sox will play the winner of the wild-card game in the other Division Series. The Indians and Red Sox have split their first six games this season.Sunday’s game will feature starting pitchers who are not in either team’s rotation, but are making spot starts.Article continues below ...Cleveland sends out Adam Plutko, who has only started 11 games this year. Boston’s starter will be Hector Velazquez, who will make his eighth start of the year.Plutko (4-5, 5.27 ERA), is 4-5 with a 5.37 ERA in his 11 starts. In four relief appearances Willie McCovey Jersey , he has a 4.50 ERA and no record.His last start was a no-decision on Sept. 8 against Toronto, a game the Indians won 9-8. Plutko pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing five runs and nine hits, with four strikeouts and no walks.Plutko’s last appearance was as a reliever Sept. 16 against Detroit in which he pitched one scoreless inning on two hits, with one strikeout and no walks.Plutko has one career appearance against the Red Sox. It came Aug. 23, a 7-0 loss in Boston. He pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs, five hits and five walks with four strikeouts. He hasn’t won a game since June 24. In nine appearances (six starts) since, he is 0-4 with a 5.77 ERA.When Indians manager Terry Francona has to go to his bullpen Sunday, he’ll call on a unit that was a disaster in the first two months of the season, but has been much better of late. The turnaround started when veteran left-hander Oliver Perez was signed as a free agent after the Yankees released him June 1.Perez made his debut with the Indians on June 2. In 49 appearances, he is 1-1 with a 0.87 ERA. In 31 innings, he has allowed 14 hits , with 41 strikeouts and six walks while holding opposing hitters to a .136 batting average. Left-handed hitters are hitting .180 against him, right-handers .071. He has allowed only 7.3 percent of his inherited runners to score (3 of 41), the best mark in the American League.“He’s been so good, he’s changed our bullpen,” Francona said. “He’s pitching with a ton of confidence.”Francona appreciates the stability that Perez has brought to the bullpen.“Bullpens are so volatile. Guys get on runs. You see it every year. It’s so up and down,” he said.Velazquez is 7-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 44 appearances (seven starts). As a starter, he is 2-2 with a 4.00 ERA. In 37 relief appearances he is 5-0 with a 2.75 ERA.Velazquez’s last start came Sept. 5 when he had no decision in a 9-8 Boston victory over Atlanta. In that game, he pitched four innings, allowing two runs and five hits, with two strikeouts and three walks.Velazquez’s last appearance came in the first game of this series Friday night, when he pitched one-third of an inning, allowing no runs and one hit. That is Velazquez’s only career appearances against Cleveland.

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