|LAD (-139) @ 888sport|
My 10* Game 7 Decider is on the LA Dodgers at 8:15 ET.
The Dodgers fell behind 0-2 in the NLCS but then came a 15-3 win in Game 3, spurred on by a record-setting 11-run 1st inning. However, the Dodgers went meekly 10-2 in Game 4 to fall in a 1-3 'hole.' LA's season was on the brink in Game 5 but Mookie Betts' third-inning, shoestring catch altered the momentum, and then Will Smith's sixth-inning three-run HR put LA up for good at 4-2. The Braves and Dodgers met in Game 6 Saturday night and it was a pitching rematch of Game 1, Fried vs Buehler. Fried opened his outing in Game 6 by getting Betts on a fly ball to center field but Seager hit a HR home run on a 0-1 curveball (note: he now has five HRs and 11 RBI, both records for a LCS in either league), while Turner crushed a sinker two pitches later for a second straight HR. After a walk to Max Muncy and a single from Will Smith, Cody Bellinger delivered a run-scoring single to center for a 3-0 advantage. The Braves had a prime scoring chance in the second inning, opening with singles from Travis d'Arnaud, Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson to load the bases. However, Buehler escaped the jam by striking out Austin Riley and Nick Markakis, before Cristian Pache grounded out. The Dodgers NEVER looked back after that. Buehler pitched SIX scoreless innings (6-0 KW ratio), before three LA relievers closed out the 3-1 victory. Most notably, Kenley Jansen recorded the final three outs of Saturday's win. He struck three batters (on 12 pitchers) in the 9th inning of Game 5 in a non-save situation but last night's effort represented his first save since the Dodgers' first postseason game 17 days ago!
So here we are, getting set for a Game 7 in the NLCS, just like in the ALCS (Tampa Bay won that one, after blowing a 3-0 series lead). Jansen, who faced the bottom of the Braves' order, was helped by a sliding catch from Joc Pederson to open the inning, then got routine fly outs from Nick Markakis and Pablo Sandoval. Six pitches, three outs to force a Game 7. The Braves will start Ian Anderson, who made his MLB on August 26 and in six regular season starts, posted a 1.95 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and .172 BAA. He won his first two postseason starts, pitching 11.2 scoreless innings with a 17-3 KW ratio. In Game 2 of the NLCS, he allowed just ONE hit and no runs over four innings but struggled with his control and walked FIVE. He was removed after those four innings, with the Braves up 6-0. He'll take the mound tonight in this Game 7, having not allowed a SINGLE run in 15.2 postseason innings. However, the pressure will be great for a 22-year-old trying to help the Braves reach the World Series for the first time since 1999 (Anderson was born in 1998!).
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts declined to name a starter for the series finale, although he did admit he would lean on Tony Gonsolin (LA's Game 2 starter) for bulk innings at some point. Roberts essentially threw all of his ingredients on the cutting board, saying that he would even check on the availability of Clayton Kershaw for Game 7. Please God, no! The Dodgers are trying to get to the World Series for the third time in the past four seasons, where they lost in 2017 to the Astros and in 2018 to the Red Sox. LA has won EIGHT straight NL West titles but the Dodgers have not won a World Series since 1988 (Gibson/Hershiser).
I'll repeat what I wrote in my Game 6 analysis, as it applies here, as well. "Let's NOT forget that LA won EIGHT more games than Atlanta in the regular season plus owned a MLB-best plus-136 run differential, more than DOUBLE that of Atlanta's (plus-60). LA sends this to a Game 7 on Sunday!" Well here we are on Sunday and my bet says LA wins and moves on to the World Series to take on the Tampa Bays Rays, who had the AL's best record (just like LA had the NL's best record). A bonus for LA will be, the World Series will be played at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Tx, where the Dodgers have just spent the last seven days battling the Braves, I don't care which pitcher LA starts or brings in during the game but "PLEASE NO" Kershaw, unless LA explodes for another 11-run inning!