Tomorrow the Dodgers will take the field in Game 1 of the NLDS for the first time since 2009. The road to the World Series start here for Los Angeles…Their opponets will be no pushover at all in the Atlanta Braves. The Dodgers will travel to face the Braves in Game one and two at Turner Field which will be no joke. Dodgers have been playing pretty good while the Braves have been up and down but this will be an interesting match up all over from the lineup’s to the pitching staff. Lets go ahead and breakdown the NLDS match up between the Dodgers and Braves.
PITCHING: The Braves enter this series as the best pitching staff ERA wise (3.18 Team ERA). This is a team who can really get it done pitching wise and have been consistent as well. When it comes to their pitching against Los Angeles they have had great success against this team posting a 1.88 Team ERA. So Atlanta has had their way with the Dodgers. The Braves bullpen have been very stellar posting a 2.46 ERA. This I believe is the strong point of their team and have the ability to shut opposing batters down. One guy in that bullpen that really gets it done is their closer Craig Kimbrel. The Braves closer, pitching a 1.21 ERA, has been lights out for this team without a doubt. Starting pitching is another thing that will be crucial for the Braves. Looking at the starters for Game 1, 2, and 3 the matchup is really good. Kris Medlen has been lights out coming into this series going 9-1 with a 2.01 ERA. During the regular season series with the Dodgers Medlen in 2 starts have not given up any earned runs and struck out Los Angeles 11 times. Mike Minor has also had good success against the Dodgers as well. Minor has also started 2 games against the Boys in Blue posting an ERA of 2.25 with 15 Strikeouts. Lately Minor has been struggling recently going 0-4 in September posting a 3.94 ERA.
The Dodgers on the other hand are right behind Atlanta when it comes to pitching staff with a Team ERA of 3.25. When you look at this team’s pitching staff you’ll see a tale of two halves. The first half saw the Dodgers starters play well while the bullpen was getting knocked around left and right. Teams were hitting at least .280 off the Dodgers bullpen which saw this team give up many hits and blow many saves. The 2nd half saw the starters pitch really good and the bullpen pitch lights out. When it comes Atlanta the Dodgers have some success but couldn’t get it done to help the team posting a team ERA of 2.66. Bullpen wise the Dodgers got their act together in the second half. With players like Ronald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez, Kenley Jansen, and JP Howell stepping up and pitching well. The Dodgers addition of Brian Wilson also helped solidify the bullpen paring him along with Kenley Jansen making the Dodgers play a “Pick your poison” type of ordeal. Starting pitching for the Dodgers maybe hands down the best in baseball. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun Jin Ryu have been having really stellar seasons. Kershaw who will be starting Game one as well is a hands down candidate for Cy Young entering the series with a 1.83 ERA which is the lowest in baseball. Kershaw have yet to face the Braves this season but a stat that favors Kershaw is that the Braves are currently batting .146 against him career wise. Zack Greinke on the other hand has also been pitching really good this season. Lets not forget that Greinke was off to a great start before getting his collarbone injured in that fight with Carlos Quinten back in April. Greinke only made one start against Atlanta but inhis only start he gave up no runs and 7 strikeouts. Hyun Jin Ryu has seen the Braves the most and while he won’t pitch at Turner field, where the Brave had a hit fest against the Korean rookie, He has had advantage against the Braves at Dodger Stadium. His last game against the Braves Ryu had 6 Strikeouts and gave up no runs in the 2-1 win.
Batting: The Braves have a pretty stellar group when you look at them. Justin Upton, BJ Upton, Jason Heyward, Freddy Freeman, Brain McCann, I can go on and on with the names on the roster but things have not been what you thought for the Braves. Atlanta right now has a team batting average of .249 which is 9th in the NL. BJ Upton has really been struggling all season long with the bat (Batting .184). While BJ been struggling he still has a spot on the Postseason roster while Dan Uggla, who is batting .179 is left off the postseason roster. The Braves don’t have a lot of guys hitting in the high .200’s but that doesn’t mean they can’t hit the ball at all. This team can also capitolize with RISP as well (Runners In Scoring Position) and runners on base as they bat .251. Don’t let the middle of the pack to decent BA’s fool you this team can hit. They also can get on base as well with .321 OBP (On Base Percentage). In the regular season the Braves had good success against the Dodgers hitting .242 in the 7 Games played against them.
The Dodgers are basically they same as the Braves if not better with the bat thanks to their turn around. Remember during the 1st half of the season the Dodgers issue was getting hits and hitting with RISP. It was a constant struggle with a talented line up of Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Adrian Gonzalez, AJ Ellis and more but you also have to remember that Hanley Ramirez was out due to injury and Yasiel Puig wasn’t with the team yet. Matt Kemp struggled badly as did Andre Ethier…Pretty much everyone did. The 2nd half saw the Dodgers go on an on slaught with their hitting and a spark. Yasiel Puig who was called up with Matt Kemp hurt came in and had a monster start, Andre Ethier was picking up where he left off and Hanley Ramirez was back and hitting the ball very very well. With the 2nd half surge the Dodgers saw their team BA rise up to .264 (3rd best in the NL). A team who also struggled with RISP managed to clean it up with .252 BA with RISP, One percentage better than their NLDS Opponet. Right now this team will be missing Matt Kemp, who will be missing the postseason due to an ankle injury, but will have Andre Ethier back to pinch hit. Either way the Dodgers still have talent on their team to get it done. Dodgers also get on base a lot as well posting a .326 OBP so this team will get on base anyway. Against the Braves this season the team has struggled batting .197 with a .253 OBP.
History: As stated many times the Dodgers and Braves earlier this season with the Braves taking the regular season series 5-2. Braves swept the Dodgers in Atlanta back in May and the two teams split a 4 game series in Los Angeles in June. These two have met in the NLDS before back in 1996. The Dodgers were swept by the Braves 3-0 in the NLDS. That Braves team would go on to play the Yankees in the World Series.
Looking at this Matchup it can go either way. When you look lineup for lineup it’s almost even. I believe it’s going to come down to pitching and who’s pitching can come through. With that said I believe the Dodgers will win this series.
Dodgers in 4