Braves vs. Dodgers

Braves vs. Dodgers | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

Written by on October 12, 2020

It’s Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday night from a neutral-site bubble in Arlington, Texas, between the Braves and Dodgers as Atlanta throws impressive rookie Ian Anderson against three-time Cy Young winner and future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw.

How to Bet Braves at Dodgers MLB Odds & TV Info

  • When: Tuesday, time TBD (likely 8 p.m. ET)
  • Where: Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas
  • Probable pitchers (away/home): Ian Anderson/Clayton Kershaw
  • TV: Fox Sports 1
  • Stream/gameday audio: Fox Sports Go; https://www.mlb.com/live-stream-games/
  • Opening MLB Lines: TBA

Why Bet on Atlanta? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

Atlanta had lost 10 consecutive playoff series before knocking off the Reds in the Wild Card Series this year. This team is rolling, even if its 5–0 playoff run was built on squelching the worst-hitting team in baseball (Cincinnati) and the sixth-worst slugging team (Miami).

The Atlanta bullpen has been terrific in these playoffs. So far in the postseason, Tyler Matzek has thrown 3.1 IP and has not given up a single run. Eight of the 10 outs he has recorded have come via strikeout (21.60 K/9) and he has yet to walk a batter. This guy was living in an RV just two years ago. Matzek has become the secret weapon for Atlanta. So much so that Braves teammate Darren O’Day has given Matzek the nickname “The Death Star.”

It’s rookie Ian Anderson on the mound for Atlanta on Tuesday. He made six starts during the regular season and went 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA (7 ER/32.1 IP) and 41 strikeouts. Anderson entered 2020 ranked by MLB.com as Atlanta’s top pitching prospect, and as the Braves’ No. 3 prospect overall. He was rated as the No. 42 prospect in baseball.

Anderson’s 41 strikeouts were the most by a Braves pitcher through their first six appearances in the live-ball era, passing Mike Minor who had 36. Since the Braves moved to Atlanta in 1966, just one other starter opened their career with six starts and a lower ERA than Anderson’s 1.95 mark. David Hale pitched to a 1.83 ERA over six starts between 2013-14.

Anderson started Game 2 of the Wild Card Series versus Cincinnati and earned the win after pitching 6.0 scoreless innings with two hits and two walks. He fanned nine. Anderson became just the fourth player in franchise history to throw at least 6.0 scoreless frames in their playoff debut.

He also started Game 2 of the NLDS vs. Miami and struck out eight batters over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Anderson has worked 11 2/3 shutout frames with 17 strikeouts across his first two career postseason starts, yielding only five total hits and three walks.

Batters are hitting .079 against Anderson’s changeup this year. He has thrown 234 of them and given up five hits—three singles and two doubles.

Why Bet on LA Dodgers? | 2020 MLB Expert Analysis

The Dodgers added pitcher Alex Wood and first baseman Edwin Rios to their NLCS roster. The Dodgers will go with 15 pitches and 13 position players in the series. Wood hasn’t appeared in a game since September 26. The southpaw missed time with shoulder inflammation this season while posting a 6.39 ERA and 15/6 K/BB ratio over 12 2/3 innings. Rios missed the NLDS with a groin strain. The 26-year-old was one of their better bench bats in 2020 with a .946 OPS, and would be a weapon off the bench against the quality right-handers in the Braves’ bullpen.

Removed from the active roster were Gavin Lux and Terrance Gore. Lux seemingly replaced Rios for the NLDS, and Gore had been included in each of the first two rounds as a pinch-runner option. Gore didn’t appear in a postseason game, while Lux made a pinch-hit appearance in Game 3 of the NLDS.

The Dodgers might have an issue in the bullpen with Kenley Jansen. Manager Dave Roberts has spent the past four weeks limiting Jansen’s exposure, even in save situations, and in Game 2 of the NLDS vs. San Diego, had to go so far as to pull the 33-year-old three-time All-Star because things were getting out of hand; in the end, the Dodgers barely escaped that game with a 6-5 victory.

When directly asked if Jansen can be trusted in high-leverage situations, Roberts answered, “I’m not going to make that decision yet.” One of the issues is Jansen’s velocity, which was dropped over the final month of the regular season; that also plagued him last year.

It’s Clayton Kershaw on the mound. In the Wild-Card Round win over Milwaukee, he threw 8.0 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts. The future Hall of Famer matched a postseason career-high with eight scoreless innings (10/5/2018 vs. ATL) while setting a new-high with the 13 strikeouts. He became one of three Dodgers to record 13+ strikeouts in a playoff game, joining Sandy Koufax (15, 10/2/1963 vs. NYY) and Carl Erskine (14, 10/2/1953 vs. NYY). Kershaw notched his 6th career 10-strikeout game in the postseason, which is second all-time behind Justin Verlander.

In the NLDS vs. San Diego, Kershaw allowed three runs on six hits in six innings of work to pick up a win. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out six. Kershaw was nowhere near as dominant as he was in the Wild Card Series win against the Brewers. He allowed an RBI double in the second inning, and then gave up back-to-back homers to Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer in the sixth with no one out. The left-hander was able to settle down and get the final three hours, but that ended his outing despite throwing only 87 pitches.

Kershaw will make his fourth career start in the postseason against the Braves. In 14 innings this postseason, he’s allowed three runs and struck out 19. He has a 0.43 career ERA against the Braves in the playoffs.

Expert PredictionBraves 4, Dodgers 3
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