|LAD (-170) @ Fanduel|
My 10* Game of the Week is on the LA Dodgers at 6:05 ET.
The Braves and Dodgers opened their NLCS on Monday. The Braves led the majors in OPS (.832) and ranked second in team BA (.268), runs (348), HRs (103) and slugging (.483) during the regular season. Checking LA's numbers in those same categories reveals the Dodgers had an .821 OPS, a team BA of .256, scored 349 runs, hit 118 HRs and owned a slugging percentage of .430. However, LA's pitching numbers are dominant by comparison. LA owned a team ERA of 3.02 (Atlanta's was 4.41) with a 1.06 WHIP (Atlanta's was 1.36) and a BAA of .213 (Atlanta's was .247). LA owned a MLB-best 43-17 regular season record, while Atlanta was EIGHT games worse at 35-25. More LA dominance was revealed by LA's MLB-best plus-136 run differential, more than DOUBLE that of Atlanta's (plus-60).
"Something had to give" in Game 1, as the Braves and Dodgers were both 5-0 this postseason and the pitching matchup featured Fried (Braves were 12-1 in his starts in 2020) vs Buehler (Dodgers were 9-1 in his starts). Game 1 entered the 9th tied at one-all when Austin Riley hit a solo shot to put the Braves up. An Acuna double, an Ozuna single and an Albies HR, all, like Riley's hit, coming after 0-2 counts, gave the Braves a 5-1 win. Game 2 was expected to see Ian Anderson go up against Clayton Kershaw. Anderson made his MLB on August 26 and in six regular season starts, posted a 1.95 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and .172 BAA. He'd won BOTH postseason starts, pitching 11.2 scoreless innings with a 17-3 KW ratio. However, Kershaw was scratched with back spasms. Gonsolin was an under-appreciated hurler for Dave Roberts' squad this season. However, the jury is still out on how he will fare in his first postseason appearance.
Here's the answer. Anderson allowed just one hit and struck out five in four scoreless innings but his outing was cut short after he gave up five walks and threw 85 pitches. As for Gonsolin, he was fine through three innings but then allowed a two-run HR to Freddie Freeman in the 4th. He was chased in the 5th inning, when Atlanta added FOUR more runs (Gonsolin was charged with five ERs in 4.1 innings). The Braves extended the lead to 7-0 in the top of the 7th but Corey Seager hit a three-run HR in the bottom of the 7th. It was 8-3 entering the bottom of the 9th when the Dodgers scored FOUR times, before Cody Bellinger was left on third base when A.J. Pollock's groundout ended the rally.
So here we are. MLB's most-dominant team this COVID-shortened season is now in an 0-2 'hole' against the Braves, who are a perfect 7-0 in the playoffs. Heading into the 7th inning of last night's game, Atlanta pitching had allowed just SIX runs (five came in Its 9-5 Game 1 win over Miami) through 64 innings, before FIVE relievers allowed SEVEN runs over the last three innings to the Dodgers in Game 2. The Game 3 starters will be Julio Urias for LA (Kershaw is still unavailable) and Kyle Wright for Atlanta.
Urias made 18 appearances (15 starts) for LA back in 2016, going 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA. He then made just eight appearances (five starts) in 2017 and 2018 combined, before making 37 appearances (eight starts) last season, going 4-3 with a 2.49 ERA. He made 11 appearances (10 starts) this season, going 3-0 with a 3.27 ERA and a .220 BAA, as the Dodgers went just 5-5 in his starts. However, he's started twice in the postseason, a short three-inning stint in Game 1 of the wild card round against Milwaukee that LA won 4-2. He then pitched five innings and got the "W" in LA's 12-3 series-clinching Game 3 win over the Padres.
In 2017 and 2018, Wright made 11 appearances (four starts) for the Braves, going 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA. He was hardly much better in 2020, making eight starts and going 2-4 with a 5.21 ERA and 1.55 WHIP (Braves managed to go 4-4 in his starts). However, he pitched SIX scoreless innings in Atlanta's Game 3 series-clinching 7-0 win over Miami (allowed three hits with seven Ks). Will the Braves just "keep winning?" I find it hard to believe the Dodgers' offense, which HAD to gain some confidence after last night's seven-run outburst the last three innings, WON'T be able to reach Wright, who is just NOT much of a pitcher, despite his effort vs Miami (see above). Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Urias had a solid season and in two postseason appearances in 2020, has allowed just one run (unearned at that) on four hits over eight innings with an 11-1 KW ratio. This price is typically outside of my 'range' but in the postseason, one HAS to be willing to 'lay a little extra juice' every once in a while. That time is RIGHT HERE!