Braves vs Dodgers; NLCS Preview and Prediction

The matchup of the two best teams in the national league will culminate in an epic showdown in the NLCS.  Both teams have gone undefeated throughout the first two rounds, they both feature great offenses and marquee names.  These teams have a history of winning, but not a recent history of winning the big one.  What will be the difference?  Let’s break it down. 

Can Braves pitching face the challenge?

Atlanta took some blows to their pitching staff throughout the season.  Losing offseason signees Felix Hernandez and Cole Hamels, one to injury and one to Covid worry set the Braves back right away.  The rapid decline of Mike Foltynewicz took another name off the table almost immediately into 2020.  The final straw in the deterioration of the staff was losing ace Mike Soroka to an achilles injury. 

Max Fried stepped up during the regular season. Despite getting knocked around in the NLDS he is still the clear #1 for the Braves.  Fried has limited hard contact all season holding opposing lineups to just a 23% rate.  The Dodgers are not a heavy strikeout team so limiting the contact will be important.  

Rookie Ian Anderson has been overwhelming to start his career.  He has held opposing hitters power in check so far giving up just a .7% homerun rate.  That ranks #1 in the league for any pitcher that has faced at least 156 hitters.  Anderson’s changeup has kept hitters off balance, as long as he continues to hit the strike zone and avoid free passes he matches up well with the Dodgers front line starters.  

The depth of the Braves bullpen has bailed them out from their injuries. Tyler Matzek, Will Smith, Darren O’Day and Mark Melancon all have been great with sub 3.00 ERA’s in at least 18 appearances each.  They have to ride the bullpen arms to overcome their young rotation that will have problems with the Dodgers patience at the plate. 

The Dodgers offense is matchup proof.

Los Angeles has the best offense in the league in every advanced statistic.  They have a wRC+ of 122, along with the Mets as the best in the league.  What makes the Dodgers extremely dangerous is their ability to score without utilizing the homerun.  They showed in the Padres series they have multiple ways of manufacturing runs.  There is not one person on the team that beats you, it could be anyone. 

The Braves feature an extremely young pitching staff that will have to throw strikes. The Braves sit at the bottom five in steals allowed per game.  The Dodgers will have a chance to make things happen when they get on base. 

The Braves are in the bottom five in stolen bases against during the season. The Dodgers have multiple players that can take advantage of the Braves issues with runners on.  Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger are just a few that can swip a bag at any moment.  LA will make it tough for Atlanta as they also feature a low strikeout rate.  The power is real, accompanied by the ability to use their contact ability speed to cause trouble.  

Who will win?

Both teams feature the best offenses in the National League.  The Braves however will feature a rotation that includes Kyle Wright….and nothing else.  The Dodgers feature a perfect matchup with the Braves bats Julio Urias and Dustin May both feature great movement on their pitches that will be a problem for Atlanta bats.  The depth of the Dodgers pitching will ultimately outmatch the Braves.  

Dodgers in 5

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