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.
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.
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.
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.