Sep 19, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw celebrates in the clubhouse after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-6 to clinch the NL West title at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic-USA TODAY Sports

Five Reasons Why The Dodgers Will Beat The Braves In The Division Series

The Dodgers begin their best three out of five National league Division Series against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday night. Game one will be at 5:37 PM pacific time, with game two being played the next day with a start time of 3:07 PM pacific time. The start times for games three and four will be announced later in the week. Games three and four will be played at Dodger Stadium, with game five if necessary at Atlanta on Wednesday night. The Game 1 pitching match-up should be Clayton Kershaw versus Kris Medlen.

Kershaw says the Braves will strike out by this much when facing him-Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers have lost Matt Kemp for the entire postseason, and with Andre Ethier questionable at best, the Dodgers come into Atlanta with some problems. If you are concerned, and rightfully you should be, I want to put your mind at ease a bit. Let’s go over five reasons why the Dodgers will beat the Braves in the NLDS. Here’s five reasons for all five potential games.

Reason # 1- Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu.

The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw starting in game 1, and Zack Greinke starting in game 2. Kershaw and Greinke are two of the best pitchers in all of Baseball. Kershaw and Greinke have had great years, and Ryu the likely starter for game three has been very solid as well. Kershaw should be winning his second Cy Young award after the postseason with another season of his domination against all opponents. Kershaw finished with a 16-9 record, an MLB leading 1.83 ERA, and 232 whiffs. Kershaw again led the league in ERA and strikeouts, and WHIP. Greinke finished with a 15-4 record, and a 2.63 ERA. Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu combined for a 45-21 record in 2013.

Reason # 2- Clayton Kershaw. Oh did I mention Kershaw???

Winning the first game is very crucial in this short playoff series, and normally the numbers tell us that when a team wins that first game, a good 80% of the time they go onto win the series. Part of this is having your number one or ace going in game 1. Kershaw has held the Braves to a .133 (11 for 83) batting average against. The Braves have only collected four extra base hits against Kershaw, and have been limited to a .403 OPS against him. The Braves are also hitting just .224 (11 for 49), with a .543 OPS against Hyun-jin Ryu.

Reason #3- The Braves are a feast or famine hitting team.

The Braves finished in the top five in home runs, but they’ve had trouble making contact all season long. They finished fifth with 181 home runs, but they finished in the top five in whiffs. The Braves finished third in the MLB in strikeouts. The Braves whiffed 1,384 times during the 2013 season. In comparison, the Dodgers were 23rd in the MLB with 1,146 whiffs. Atlanta is a team that strikes out a lot, and the Dodgers are a team with a pitching staff that racks up a lot of punch-outs. The Dodgers pitching staff finished eighth in all of MLB with 1,292 strikeouts.

Reason #4- The Dodgers are the best road team in the National League.

That’s right, the Dodgers finished with the best record in the National League with a 45-36 record. The Dodgers were the second best road hitting team (.269) in the majors in 2013. The club was second only to the Red Sox. The Dodgers also had the third best staff road ERA in the majors. The Dodgers are a good road team that hits and pitches very well wherever they play.

The Birdman Zack Greinke will be on the mound in Game 2-Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Reason #5- The Braves have a long and established history of choking in the playoffs.

The Braves made the playoffs in 2010 as a wild card and lost in the division series to the Giants in four games. The Braves choked again in 2011, not making the playoffs at all that year. That was the season where they were eliminated on the final day of the regular season. Finally in 2012, the Braves made the playoffs again as a wild card. Last year they were the top wild card and played host to the first ever National League wild card game Play-in at Turner Field. However if you remember the Cardinals beat them and sent them packing for the third straight season. This is not a very experienced playoff team. The Dodgers aren’t really either, but the Braves have a history of choking in the first round. Plus that tomahawk chop chant is utterly annoying.

Well there you go. There’s five reasons why the Dodgers will beat the Braves in their division series match-up. I know we’re all a little apprehensive coming into the series because of the stupid injuries. But remember the Dodgers are a good team. They still have Kershaw and Greinke going in the first two games, and they have Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, and they have Adrian Gonzalez in the lineup. The Dodgers have Kenley Jansen, and Paco in the bullpen, and Juan Uribe at the hot corner. The Dodgers are a good team too, and we don’t have to deal with the wild card game, thank god. Plus the Braves have very inexperienced pitchers. Their lone veteran Tim Hudson is out for the year.

So if you are nervous, sit back and relax. The Dodgers are in the playoffs. Yes it sucks that they couldn’t have gotten home field advantage, but if the last few years of the playoffs have taught us anything, it’s that home field isn’t the most important thing in the world. Actually it hasn’t meant diddly squat for most teams over the last few years. I mean look at the Cardinal’s World Series run. Home Field advantage while being a nice luxury to have isn’t the end all and be all.

The Dodgers still have a great chance of beating the Braves and moving on to the NLCS. Put your mind at ease. It gets real on Thursday night.

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Tags: Adrian Gonzalez Andre Ethier Clayton Kershaw Don Mattingly Hanley Ramirez Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Kemp Yasiel Puig Zack Greinke

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  • Ken Carroll

    In the South we call this cherry-picked rationalization “whistling past the graveyard.” Sleep tight, LA fans – until Thursday.

    • LasordasLair

      Wow, thems fighting words huh? Game on!

      • Ken Carroll

        Fighting words? No; not really, but you did do a good job of forgetting there are two teams playing. Here are a few things to consider before you tell any more bedtime stories to the Dodger faithful.

        1 – You might want to ask Cliff Lee if Kris Medlen will roll over because of the reputation of his opposite number.

        2 – The Braves strikeout numbers significantly improved between the first and second halves of the season.

        3 – With Jason Heyward in the lead-off position, the Braves are a much better team (both before and after Heyward’s DL stint due to a broken jaw) that scores far more runs per game.

        4 – Evan Gattis will be in the outfield instead of B. J. Upton. This means more power, fewer strikeouts, and a batting average about 60 points higher. There is a defensive loss there, but a far greater offensive improvement.

        5 – It isn’t just Kimbrel in the Braves’ bullpen. I believe the Braves have the best bullpen ERA in the majors. The Dodgers will need to score their runs in the first six innings or so against the Braves starters.

        6 – Overall, despite all of the attention shown to LA’s pitching, the Braves have a lower team ERA than the Dodgers: 3.18 to 3.25; more quality starts; a lower WHIP and a better K/BB ratio.

        7 – The Dodgers are, indeed, the best road team, but the Braves are the best home team. One of those won’t hold up.

        The Dodgers have a fine team and I believe it will be a good series, but it may come down to injuries. The Braves are used to making do with what they have – the envisioned best starting lineup played together a total of 29 games this year out of 162. We won’t even get into the pitching injuries. I don’t think the Dodgers are used to that particular adversity.

        Braves in four games and may the best team win!

        • LasordasLair

          Well I didn’t say anything bad about the Braves except for the choking thing. But both teams are very good. But the two clubs have equally strong pitching staffs. It’s about the same. Come on the Braves have a better ERA by a few points? The Braves have a better bullpen, but the Dodgers have a better rotation by far. Kershaw, and Greinke are better than Medlen and Minor. The Braves are a team that strikes out alot too. It’s going to be a tough series. Please don’t mention Cliff Lee again.

          • Ken Carroll

            No offense taken; I didn’t see anything unfair. I simply believe you did omit some very relevant information.

            The Dodgers have an excellent starting rotation, but I do believe you’re underestimating the Braves starting rotation and the numbers tend to agree with me. Just an FYI, we love Julio Teheran’s mental makeup. The tougher the competition, the better he pitches. He’s young but he is destined to be a big game competitor.

            Our number four starter is where I begin to worry, but I’m not concerned with our top three though Minor has looked a little rough lately.

          • LasordasLair

            No disrespect to Medlen, and MInor, and Teheren, they are good pitchers, but theyre also very inexperienced. The Dodgers have a lot of veterans on the team, and Kershaw and Greinke are battle tested. Don’t sleep on the Dodgers. Theyre a very good road team and if Kershaw and Greinke dominate the Dodgers can take away that home field advantage.

          • Ken Carroll

            Post-season experience is over-rated. I remember the last time we sent three “very inexperienced” young pitchers to the post-season. It was 1991 and you may remember their names: Tom Glavine, Steve Avery and John Smoltz. They did pretty well for some young, inexperienced guys.

          • LasordasLair

            Post season experience is actually pretty good to have. Can you explain some of Freddi’s stange roster moves? Any reason why Varvaro, and Downs were left off the roster? I’m just curious

          • Ken Carroll

            I’m simply a lifelong Braves fan with an appreciation for the game; no insider info, so take what I have to say as what it is: somewhat educated guesses. This is my personal take on the matter.

            Scott Downs: I think Downs is hurt. He has been far less effective lately than when he first came over from the Angels and may have lost velocity. Fredi has a better option in LHP Alex Wood. He has a deceptive delivery and a very good move to first. who is effective against lefties and righties.

            Fredi has moved Wood to the bullpen from the rotation for the playoffs. Wood is a rookie (pitched last season as a Georgia Bulldog and in 13 games in ’12 at high A) who appeared in 31 games for Atlanta this year, starting 11 of them and 20 in relief. He’s been effective with a 3.13 ERA but seemed to tire toward the end of the season. He’s rested now and should be good to go.

            As a reliever, Wood has a 2.08 ERA and averages 9.55 Ks per 9 innings. He has a deceptive delivery and a very good move to first.

            Anthony Varvaro: I’m scratching my head on this one. Anthony’s ERA is actually a full run lower and his Ks per 9 innings are up in the second half of the season. The only negative is that his WHIP is up. It may be that Fredi sees David Hale as a better option.

            Rookie RHP David Hale may be the reason Varvaro did not make the roster. Hale started two games for the Braves and has been nearly unhittable. I suspect the Braves would use Hale as a long reliever, much as they used the much-missed (out for the season) Christhian Martinez in the past. Hale could also spot start in case of some injury. Hale pitched 11 innings in the bigs, surrendered 11 hits, one walk, one earned run while striking out 11.45 per 9 innings and maintaining an ERA of 0.82.

            Paul Maholm: Maholm has not pitched well since his injury earlier this year. If Fredi wanted to go to a second LH starter then he would have chosen Alex Wood. My guess is that game four (if necessary) would be started by veteran Freddy Garcia.

            Jose Constanza: Constanza is a speed freak who can bunt and plays good defense in the outfield. I was surprised he made the roster instead of rookie Joey Terdoslavich. Terdo can hit for more power and can play either corner infield position as well as the outfield.

            Fredi is obviously looking for speed and outfield defense. Constanza would be a solid late-innings replacement for El Oso Blanco to either pinch-run or play defense late in the game for Gattis.

            The rest is pretty-much as expected. Dan Uggla is not on the playoff roster and that was a possibility. B.J. Upton is on the playoff roster, but due solely to his speed and somewhat over-rated defense. If he starts a game then I will be surprised.

          • LasordasLair

            Thank you, that’s some good stuff there. Im surprised Varvaro was left off the roster. Do you think Freddi Made a mistake? Who is this Hale guy? Gattis scares me, I’ll be honest. I’m assuming the Braves will be using him in left field?

          • Ken Carroll

            Like you, I’m assuming Gattis, AKA El Oso Blanco, will start in left field at least against left-handed pitching. He has a short, quick, powerful stroke with the bat and is becoming more disciplined at the plate which helps overcome his biggest weakness.

            I could see Jordan Shaefer playing center field, Justin Upton in left and Jason Heyward in right if Fredi sees an advantage to more LH bats in the starting line-up.

            David Hale is another rookie pitcher with velocity and serious, late movement on his fastball. He just turned 26 a couple of weeks ago. Played college ball at Princeton and HS ball a few miles from Turner Field in Marietta. He pitches well, can bear down in difficult situations and, frankly, we’re just learning what he can do – and so is he. He said Brian McCann had him throwing pitches in locations he’d never even thought of trying.

            Near the end of the season Hale was brought up from AAA for a couple of spot starts to allow our starters to miss a turn in the rotation and keep them fresh. It seemed to work out better than anticipated.

            No mistakes with the roster. I think Fredi (one D) has planned his roster well. He has had a lot of success this year and isn’t afraid to make changes in his line-up.

            There’s an excellent piece I read somewhere after I answered your original question abut Fredi’s lineup that said pretty much what I did though in a better way. It says Fredi is emphasizing speed and defense in the first round.

  • Pridenpoise

    There’s a few things in life that you can always count on, and one of them is, the Braves always CHOKE in the Playoffs.

    • Ken Carroll

      I’ll give credit where credit is due: The last time the Dodgers were in a World Series they won it. Of course that was 1988.

      • LasordasLair

        Don’t forget about the 2013 championship squad.

        • Ken Carroll

          While I appreciate your optimism, that has yet to be proven. :-)

          • LasordasLair

            I’m predicting the future

          • Ken Carroll

            If that works out for you we may need to discuss the nature of some tech stocks over a beer – and maybe some Lotto numbers. ;-)

            (And now for something completely different: I’ll try to be more kind to the local fauna. I apologize for being jerkish.)

          • LasordasLair

            ha ha ha my crystal ball has been off lately, but I’m hoping this is one I get right.
            No worries, ha ha apologize to Pridenpoise, and be more polite, Hey I understand, we’re passionate fans of our teams, and this is the playoffs, and things are going to get real here soon, but let’s all try and play nice.

      • Pridenpoise

        My point exactly when they get there they win. So your sarcastic comment reeks of insecurity, so take your false bravado over to the Braves page, and talk about that ONE World Series win, when it easily should have been three. What a waste of one of the best rotations in baseball.

        • Ken Carroll

          First, sarcasm doesn’t mean quite what you seem to think.

          Second, the Braves have won the WS more than once so they don’t “always CHOKE”, ipso facto. And have won the NL pennant five times since the Dodgers last did so a quarter of a century ago.

          Third, I enjoy the game of baseball itself. I have found that it seldom requires less knowledgeable fans braying a thought-free, no-value analysis such as yours.

          • LasordasLair

            Play nice gentleman

          • Pridenpoise

            I guess because I have a life, and I’m not a walking encyclopedia on baseball, I should feel diminished next to your outstanding knowledge of the game, seeing as I’m not a Braves fan, I don’t really care how many Series they have won, but face facts, they are known for choking in the playoffs period. And if you don’t like my thought free no value analysis, don’t comment on it. Ipso fatso. At least my life does not revolve around baseball stats, which is ok if your getting paid for it. Which your not. So go read your sabre metrics and I’m going to enjoy life. Later.

      • LasordasLair

        Time for Bluetober

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  • Al

    Just got off the phone with my homies in Atl. First it was the Falcons now the Braves. They’re on suicide watch now after last nite!