The Braves take on the Dodgers in the second of today's playoff matchups.
Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers
Game 1 is Friday 4th October from Turner Field
Game 1 is live on Fox Sports 3 & Fox Sports 3 HD from 10:30am AEST (see TV Guide for other games and times)
Both the Braves and Dodgers clinched their playoff spot quite early and quite comfortably. They were far and away the best teams in their respective divisions and some would argue the best two teams in the NL.
Neither enters the post-season in great form but that is beside the point. Both teams are rested and are ready to roll.
The Braves own the best home field record in the league. The Dodgers are going to have to find a way to overcome this hurdle if they want to continue deep into October.
As we take a look below you will see why this is going to be such an intriguing series. Both teams have a clear edge in one department. We will see if offence or defence wins out in this battle.
The Braves should have a decided advantage with the stick in hand. Atlanta has class cross the diamond. Justin Upton and BJ Upton form a dynamic outfield combination, with Jason Heyward rounding out a very nice trio.
Freddie Freeman just keeps on getting better and adds power to the Braves line up as does catcher Brian McCann.
The Dodgers are going to miss Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in this series, although Ethier may pinch hit.
Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and rookie sensation Yasiel Puig make up the backbone of the Dodgers line up. All three are capable of doing some real damage when they get hot.
Guys like Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe may not be stars of the game but they play a role each night and they are going to have to contribute for the Dodgers to compete in this series.
Pitching is not so secret weapon the Dodgers will need to use to win this series.
Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on earth at this point in time and he will start in two games.
Zack Greinke is also going to cause Atlanta all sorts of trouble when he takes the mound.
If the Dodgers can win the three games that Kershaw and Greinke start then they win the series. Simple as that.
This is not to disrespect the Braves rotation which will consist of Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Terehan. These guys are very good. They are just not as good as Kershaw or Greinke.
The good news for Atlanta is that they have the best reliever on the planet. Craig Kimbrel leads the most dominant bullpen in all of baseball. If the Braves can get an early lead they will be very tough to beat.
Once again I don’t mean to write off Kenley Janson or Brian Wilson and his beard, but they are just not on the same level as Kimbrel.
Both teams are just above average as far fielding goes. The Braves have Andrelton Simmons who is poetry in motion from the shortstop position. In fact, depending on what stats you look at Simmons set a record for most defensive runs saved in a season. But overall I like the Dodgers just a bit better and they are going to have to shine in the field to try and slow down the potent Atlanta offence.
This game comes down to how the Dodgers two stud pitchers perform. If LA can win at least two of the games that Kershaw and Greinke start it will almost get them over the line. If they win all three they are home. The Braves best chance is to beat the Dodgers and Kershaw is in game one in Atlanta. Whoever wins game one wins the series. Give me the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games.