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Dodgers Dugout: Long and winding journey ends up in a familiar place

Dodgers Dugout: Long and winding journey ends up in a familiar place
Hyun-Jin Ryu. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and the Dodgers are only 11 wins away from…. Well, let’s not jinx it.

The NLDS

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So here we are. After all the ups and downs of the season, after all the emails from Dodgers “fans” who gave up, the Dodgers have done exactly what most expected.

They won the NL West and are in the NLDS. Their opponent: the Atlanta Braves. We could have saved ourselves a lot of grief by just skipping the season and starting with the playoffs.

So, how did the Dodgers fare against the Braves this season? Pretty well. They went 5-2 against them. They are heavy favorites to win this series. But that always reminds me of one of my favorite lines from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, when Satipo says “Let us hurry. There is nothing to fear here.” And Indiana pushes him against the wall and says, “That’s what scares me.”

It didn’t end so well for Satipo, but I think it will end up better for the Dodgers. I predict Dodgers in four games.

Let’s take a look at how well Dodgers have fared against Game 1 starter Mike Foltynewicz.

Manny Machado: .667 (4 for 6)

Chris Taylor: .600 (3 for 5), two doubles

Chase Utley: .500 (2 for 4)

Alex Verdugo: .500 (1 for 2), one homer

Brian Dozier: .333 (2 for 6), two doubles

Yasmani Grandal: .333 (2 for 6), two homers

Cody Bellinger: .167 (1 for 6)

Matt Kemp: .000 (0 for 4)

Joc Pederson: .000 (0 for 6)

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David Freese: .000 (0 for 3)

Max Muncy: .000 (0 for 3)

Yasiel Puig: .000 (0 for 3)

Justin Turner: .000 (0 for 1)

Austin Barnes: .000 (0 for 1)

And how the Braves have fared against Hyun-Jin Ryu

Freddie Freeman: .625 (5 for 8), one double

Charlie Culberson: .429 (3 for 7), one triple

Adam Duvall: .375 (3 for 8), one homer

Ender Inciarte: .333 (1 for 3)

Nick Markakis: .333 (1 for 3)

Lucas Duda: .250 (1 for 4)

Rene Rivera: .000 (0 for 7)

Why Ryu and not Kershaw?

So, the big news to come out in the off days until Game 1 was the Dodgers announcing that Hyun-Jin Ryu, not Clayton Kershaw, would be starting today. Why? The Dodgers say it is to give both starters the same amount of rest. Ryu gets five days of rest before pitching today, Kershaw will have five before pitching tomorrow. And that may be true. That may be part of the reason. But does anyone think if Kerhsaw was pitching like he did a couple of seasons ago, the same decision would be made? No.

But that’s OK, because it’s the right decision. Ryu has been amazing in September, going 3-2 with a 1.50 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 30 innings. He also has a 1.15 ERA in Dodger Stadium this season. Frankly, he has just outpitched Kershaw recently. It’s the correct move to make, and I am pleased that Dave Roberts, Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi went with the right move, instead of the safe move.

I also wonder if, deep down, this impacts Kershaw’s decision whether to opt out or not.

So, let’s enjoy Game 1. You’ll get a newsletter every game day during the playoffs as we try to figure out what went right and wrong throughout the postseason.

NLDS schedule

Game 1-Thursday, 5:30 p.m.: Atlanta (Mike Foltynewicz, 13-10, 2.85 ERA) at Dodgers (Hyun-Jin Ryu, 7-3, 1.97 ERA). TV: MLB Network.

Game 2-Friday, 6:30 p.m.: Atlanta (Anibal Sanchez, 7-6, 2.83 ERA) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 9-5, 2.73 ERA). TV: FS1.

Game 3-Sunday, 5 p.m.: Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 8-5, 2.62) at Atlanta (TBA). TV: FS1

Game 4*-Monday, TBD: Dodgers (TBA) at Atlanta (TBA). TV: FS1

Game 5*-Wednesday, TBD: Atlanta (TBA) at Dodgers (TBA). TV: FS1.

*-if necessary.

And finally

World Series Game 5: An inside look at how a championship slipped away. Read it here.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.

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