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Dodgers Dugout: Previewing the NLCS against the Braves

The Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Giants in Game 5 on Thursday.
Will we see this again after the NLCS?
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, and now we turn our attention to the next step in the journey.

—Some Dodger fans on social media are already looking past the Atlanta Braves to a potential World Series matchup against the Boston Red Sox or Houston Astros. Big mistake. Yes, the Dodgers won 18 more games than the Braves, but Atlanta didn’t get here by accident. They are a good team.

—The Braves have home-field advantage for the series because they won their division, while the Dodgers didn’t. If the Dodgers advance to the World Series, they will have home-field advantage no matter who they play.

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—And a reminder: there is no runner on second rule in extra innings during the playoffs.

—The Dodgers will announce their NLCS roster some time today, as will the Braves. I wouldn’t expect any drastic changes to the Dodgers roster.

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—The big question is whether Max Muncy will be able to play. It seems unlikely. If he is, that would mean either Steven Souza Jr. or Billy McKinney would be off the roster.

—The Braves announced Friday that left-hander Max Fried will start Game 1. Fried led the majors with a 1.74 ERA after the All-Star break and threw six shutout innings in Game 2 of the NLDS against Milwaukee, striking out nine.

—Fried is 1-2 with a 4.30 in five starts in his career against the Dodgers. He was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA against them this season.

Vin Scully on why he said Game 5 between the Dodgers and Giants was the biggest game in the rivalry’s history: “The struggle was immense to get where they got [Thursday] night. When you realize how many games they had to win just to stay even with each other, to me, that made it truly remarkable. It was not a come-from-behind season, as it was for, say, the New York Giants. “This was a constant ‘first me, then you.’ They kept building and building, and winning and winning. They never stopped. To win 100 games was always a big deal, and here were two teams — and in the same division — winning over 100. The Dodgers stayed right on the heels of the Giants. The Giants, all year, coming up with remarkable victories. And then they had to [play Game 5] — just the thought that 109 wins was not enough made that game, in my mind, the biggest game that they had ever played.”

—And who are we to argue with Vin Scully?

—A left-hander starting means we will probably see Albert Pujols in the starting lineup.

—The Dodgers have not announced their Game 1 starter yet (though they may have by the time you read this). The original plan was to start Max Scherzer, but his inning in Game 5 on Thursday may push him back to Game 2. If Scherzer can’t go, it will be a bullpen game. If Scherzer does start Game 1, they could go with Tony Gonsolin or David Price in Game 2, and give Walker Buehler extra rest, pushing him to Game 3 at Dodger Stadium. There are a lot of options.

—Heck, maybe they’ll surprise us and have Corey Knebel start every game.

—All the NLCS games will be on TBS again. The announcing crew will be, gulp, Brian Anderson, Ron Darling, Jeff Francoeur, with Lauren Shehadi as the in-game reporter. So you’ve got a guy who can’t judge a fly ball to save his life, a guy the Dodgers beat in 1988 and still seems bitter, a guy who played for the Braves for six seasons, and Shehadi, who is good at her job. This reminds me of when Tom Heinsohn would be the analyst for Lakers-Celtics playoff games.

Let’s look at some numbers, and then I will give you my prediction for the series.

Season series: Dodgers, 4-2

Run differential
Dodgers: +269, best in baseball
Braves: +134, seventh-best in baseball

Record in first half
Dodgers: 56-35
Braves: 44-45

Record in second half
Dodgers: 50-21
Braves: 44-28

Record in extra innings
Dodgers: 6-13
Braves: 5-9

Record in one-run games
Dodgers: 24-24
Braves: 26-31

Days in first place this season
Dodgers: 28
Braves: 51

Walkoff wins
Dodgers: 3
Braves: 7

Walkoff losses
Dodgers: 9
Braves: 7

Runs scored
Dodgers: 830 (1st in NL)
Braves: 790 (3rd)

Doubles
Braves: 269 (7th)
Dodgers: 247 (11th)

Triples
Dodgers: 24 (6th)
Braves: 20 (11th)

Home runs
Braves: 239 (2nd)
Dodgers: 237 (3rd)

Stolen bases
Dodgers: 65 (9th)
Braves: 59 (11th)

Batter Walks
Dodgers: 613 (1st)
Braves: 549 (8th)

Batter Strikeouts
Braves: 1,453 (6th)
Dodgers: 1,408 (8th)

Batting average
Dodgers: .2442 (6th)
Braves: .2437 (7th)

OB%
Dodgers: .330 (2nd)
Braves: .319 (6th)

SLG%
Braves: .435 (2nd)
Dodgers: .429 (4th)

Batting with runners in scoring position
Braves: .267 (1st)
Dodgers: .262 (4th)

Batting with two out and runners in scoring position
Braves: .273 (1st)
Dodgers: .249 (2nd)

ERA
Dodgers: 3.01 (1st)
Braves: 3.88 (4th)

Shutouts
Braves: 18 (3rd)
Dodgers: 17 (4th)

Home runs allowed
Dodgers: 161 (third fewest)
Braves: 183 (sixth fewest)

Pitcher walks
Dodgers: 486 (third fewest)
Braves: 516 (fifth fewest)

Pitcher strikeouts
Dodgers: 1,599 (1st)
Braves: 1,417 (8th)

Starters’ ERA
Dodgers: 2.93 (1st)
Braves: 3.84 (4th)

Bullpen ERA
Dodgers: 3.16 (2nd)
Braves: 3.97 (7th)

Fielding errors
Dodgers: 89 (eight most)
Braves: 72 (14th)

Defensive efficiency rating (% of balls in play turned into outs)
Dodgers: 72.3% (1st)
Braves: 70.8% (4th)

Probable main starters

Catcher
Dodgers: Will Smith, .258/.365/.495, 19 doubles, 25 homers, 130 OPS+
Braves: Travis D’Arnaud, .220/.284/.388, 14 doubles, 7 homers, 74 OPS+

First base
Dodgers: Cody Bellinger, .165/.240/.302, 9 doubles, 10 homers, 45 OPS+
Dodgers: Albert Pujols, .236/.284/.433, 3 doubles, 17 homers, 91 OPS+
Braves: Freddie Freeman, .300/.393/.503, 25 doubles, 31 homers, 133 OPS+

Second base
Dodgers: Trea Turner, .328/.375/.536, 34 doubles, 28 homers, 146 OPS+
Braves: Ozzie Albies, .259/.310/.488, 40 doubles, 30 homers, 105 OPS+

Third base
Dodgers: Justin Turner, .278/.361/.471, 22 doubles, 27 homers, 123 OPS+
Braves: Austin Riley, .303/.367/.531, 33 doubles, 33 homers, 132 OPS+

Shortstop
Dodgers: Corey Seager, .306/.394/.521, 22 doubles, 16 homers, 145 OPS+
Braves: Dansby Swanson, .248/.311/.449, 33 doubles, 27 homers, 97 OPS+

Left field
Dodgers: Chris Taylor, .254/.344/.438, 25 doubles, 20 homers, 110 OPS+
Dodgers: AJ Pollock, .297/.355/.536, 27 doubles, 21 homers, 137 OPS+
Braves: Eddie Rosario, .271/.330/.573, 4 doubles, 7 homers, 131 OPS+

Center field
Dodgers: Gavin Lux, .242/.328/.364, 12 doubles, 7 homers, 87 OPS+
Braves: Adam Duvall, .226/.287/.513, 7 doubles, 16 homers, 104 OPS+

Note: for Game 1, Taylor will probably start in center, with Pollock in left.

Right field
Dodgers: Mookie Betts, .264/.367/.487, 29 doubles, 23 homers, 128 OPS+
Braves: Joc Pederson, .238/.310/.422, 19 doubles, 18 homers, 93 OPS+

Note: Regular Braves right fielder Jorge Soler is on the COVID-19 injured list and is unlikely to play in the NLCS.

Rotation
Dodgers
Max Scherzer, RHP, 15-4, 2.46 ERA, 0.864 WHIP
Walker Buehler, RHP, 16-4, 2.47 ERA, 0.968 WHIP
Julio Urías, LHP, 20-3, 2.96 ERA, 1.018 WHIP

Braves
Max Fried, LHP, 14-7, 3.04 ERA, 1.087 WHIP
Charlie Morton, RHP, 14-6, 3.34 ERA, 1.045 WHIP
Ian Anderson, RHP, 9-5, 3.58 ERA, 1.231 WHIP

Closer
Dodgers: Kenley Jansen, 4-4, 2.22 ERA, 38 saves, 69 IP, 36 hits, 36 walks, 86 strikeouts, 5 blown saves, 13% IRS%
Braves: Will Smith, 3-7, 3.44 ERA, 37 saves, 68 IP, 49 hits, 28 walks, 87 strikeouts, 6 blown saves, 100% IRS%

So, who’s going to win? The Braves have a power-hitting lineup, but the Dodgers are just a little bit better.

Prediction: Dodgers in six.

Dodgers in the postseason

How the Dodgers are doing in the 2021 postseason

Batters

Albert Pujols, .500 (2 for 4)
Mookie Betts, .458 (11 for 24, 1 homer, 4 RBIs)
Steven Souza Jr., .333 (1 for 3)
Gavin Lux, .333 (3 for 9)
Cody Bellinger, .294 (5 for 17, 1 double, 3 RBIs)
Will Smith, .286 (6 for 21, 1 double, 2 homers, 3 RBIs)
AJ Pollock, .214 (3 for 14, 1 double, 2 RBIs)
Corey Seager, .208 (5 for 24, 2 doubles, 2 RBIs)
Trea Turner, .192 (5 for 26, 2 doubles, 1 RBI)
Chris Taylor, .188 (3 for 16, 1 double, 1 homer, 3 RBIs)
Matt Beaty, .125 (1 for 8)
Justin Turner, .083 (2 for 24)
Austin Barnes, .000 (0 for 1)
Luke Raley, .000 (0 for 1)
Billy McKinney, .000 (0 for 1)
Team, .239 (48 for 201, 9 doubles, 5 homers, 21 runs scored)

Pitchers

Brusdar Graterol, 4.2 IP, 3 hits, 0 walks, 3 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Kenley Jansen, 3.0 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 8 K’s, 2-0, 0.00 ERA
Corey Knebel, 2.1 IP, 1 hits, 0 walks, 4 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Phil Bickford, 2.1 IP, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Max Scherzer, 12.1 IP, 6 hits, 4 walks, 16 K’s, 0-1, 1 save, 1.46 ERA
Blake Treinen, 5 IP, 2 hits, 1 walks, 6 K’s, 1.80 ERA
Julio Urías, 9 IP, 6 hits, 1 walk, 10 K’s, 1-0, 2.00 ERA
Walker Buehler, 10.2 IP, 9 hits, 3 walks, 9 K’s, 0-1, 3.38 ERA
Joe Kelly, 2.1 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 K, 1-0, 3.86 ERA
Alex Vesia, 1.1 IP, 2 hit, 0 walks, 2 K’s, 6.75 ERA
Team, 53 IP, 34 hits, 10 walks, 59 K’s, 1.87 ERA

How the Braves are doing in the 2021 postseason

Batters

Joc Pederson, .429 (3 for 7, 2 homers, 5 RBIs)
Austin Riley, .333 (5 for 15, 1 homer, 1 RBI)
Eddie Rosario, .308 (4 for 13, 2 RBIs)
Freddie Freeman, .308 (4 for 13, 1 double, 1 homer, 2 RBIs)
Adam Duvall, .286 (4 for 14, 1 triple)
Ozzie Albies, .235 (2 doubles, 1 RBI)
Dansby Swanson, .200 (3 for 15, 1 double)
Travis d’Arnaud, .167 (2 for 12, 1 RBI)
Jorge Soler, .091 (1 for 11, 1 double)
Ehire Adrianza, .000 (0 for 2)
Guillermo Heredia, .000 (0 for 1)
Orlando Arcia, .000 (0 for 1)
William Contreras, .000 (0 for 1)
Team. .234 (30 for 128, 5 doubles, 4 homers, 12 runs scored)

Pitchers

Max Fried, 6 IP, 3 hits, 0 walks, 9 K’s, 1-0, 0.00 ERA
Ian Anderson, 5 IP, 3 hits, 0 walks, 6 K’s, 1-0, 0.00 ERA
Tyler Matzek, 4.1 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 6 K’s, 1-0, 0.00 ERA
Luke Jackson, 3.1 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Will Smith, 3 IP, 2 hits, 1 walk, 3 K’s, 3 saves, 0.00 ERA
Jesse Chavez, 1.2 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 K’s, 0.00 ERA
A.J. Minter, 1.1 IP, 0 hits, 0 walks, 3 K’s, 0.00 ERA
Charlie Morton, 9.1 IP, 7 hits, 2 walks, 14 K’s, 0-1, 3.86 ERA
Huascar Ynoa, 1 IP, 2 hits, 1 walks, 2 K’s, 18.00 ERA
Team, 35 IP, 24 hits, 9 walks, 48 K’s, 1.54 ERA

NLCS schedule

Game 1: Saturday, Dodgers (TBA) at Atlanta (**Max Fried, 14-7, 3.04 ERA), 5 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 2: Sunday, at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 3: Tuesday, at Dodgers, 2 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 4: Wednesday, at Dodgers, 5 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 5*: Thursday, at Dodgers, 5 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 6*: Saturday, Oct. 23, at Atlanta, 2 p.m. PT if ALCS is still playing, 5 p.m. PT if not, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio
Game 7*: Sunday, Oct. 24, at Atlanta, 4:30 p.m. PT, TBS, AM 570, KTNQ 1020, ESPN radio

*-if necessary
**-left-handed

In case you missed it

Vin Scully can’t believe how Dodgers and Giants were unrivaled this season

Dodgers say either Max Scherzer will start Game 1 of NLCS or it will be a bullpen game

Nine concerns the Dodgers should have about facing the Braves in the NLCS

Dodgers vs. Braves: Everything you need to know about the NLCS

Battle-tested Dodgers show once again that experience matters in October

How the Dodgers won 106 games but lost home-field advantage

And finally

Vin Scully lets us know that “It’s time for Dodger baseball.” Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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