The National League West and East winner will square off in the NLDS. The Los Angeles Dodgers will face the Atlanta Braves for a chance to play in the Championship series. The Braves won the season series 5-2 and were able to avoid Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw in both series.
The two teams started the season in completely different fashions. The Braves jumped out to a 12-1 start and kept a steady lead atop the NL East for the majority for the season. Atlanta even had a 14-game winning streak from July 26-August 9. The Dodgers on the other hand started the season poorly. 72 games in, Los Angeles was 12-games under .500. They turned it around going 58-23 in their next 81 games. The Braves had the best home record in the league while the Dodgers had the best road record.
Keys to the Series
Starting Pitching- Both teams have very formidable starting rotations. The question is which one will make the fewest mistakes. If the Atlanta staff can go deep into ballgames, it will give way to the bullpen, which was the best in baseball posting a 2.46 ERA. The Dodgers have an array of former closers in their bullpen, but might not need them because Kershaw and Zack Greinke have the ability to go the distance.
Will the Long Ball be a Factor? – The Braves are no strangers to homeruns as they hit a National League best 181 on the season. The Dodgers weren’t a huge power team in terms of putting the ball out of the park as they hit 138. The Dodgers hit better overall than the Braves in terms of average batting .264 as a team, while the Braves hit .249 and struck out a bunch. Both teams are capable of putting up runs, so which one will score more?
Los Angeles- Yasiel Puig- The likely NL Rookie of the Year will get the opportunity to star in his first ever postseason. He had a quality rookie campaign batting .319 with 19 homeruns, 42 RBIs and an OBP of .391. The young Cuban defector does a lot of good things on the field, but also does some questionable things. If he can limit his mistakes, he will be a key contributor to the Dodgers in this series.
Atlanta- Freddie Freeman- The first baseman for the Braves has been red-hot since the All Star Break. His slash line since then is .335/.408/.544 to go along with an OPS of .952 and 14 homeruns. He finished the season with a .319 average, 23 homeruns and 109 RBIs. He hits lefties well, but he doesn’t have the same power as he does when facing right handed pitchers. He will see a couple of lefties in the series, can he sustain his regular season success? If the answer is yes, the Braves will be in good shape.
Game 1- Los Angeles @ Atlanta Thursday 10/3 8:30 p.m.
Game 2- Los Angeles @ Atlanta Friday 10/4 6:00 p.m.
Game 3- Atlanta @ Los Angeles Sunday 10/6 TBD
*Game 4- Atlanta @ Los Angeles Monday 10/7 TBD
*Game 5- Los Angeles @ Atlanta Wednesday 10/9 TBD