Both the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers easily swept past division rivals to return to the NL Championship Series. The Dodgers are back in the NLCS for the fifth time in the past eight years as they search for their first World Series championship since 1988. The Braves haven’t been in the NLCS since 2001 but have the youth and bats to potentially put a scare into the Dodgers.
Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, NL Championship Series: Tips, Odds & Predictions
Tips & Predictions
It felt to many Braves fans that the franchise was cursed in the postseason after 19 years and nine series consecutive losses. But Atlanta has not dropped a game yet in advancing back to the NL Championship Series, where they will be gigantic underdogs to the Dodgers. Where Atlanta has a chance to shine is on the mound as the Braves have pitched four shutouts in their five games in the playoffs. Ian Anderson has been superb in both of his starts in the playoffs, having allowed just five hits with 17 strikeouts in 11.2 innings on the bump. Max Fried looked dominant against the Reds but he struggled a bit with Miami during his start in the divisional round. The bigger issue for Atlanta is its offense, which was split in half against the Marlins. Four batters hit above .300 in the NLDS and combined to drive in 15 of Atlanta’s 17 RBIs in the series. The other five batters all were below .200, and that group notably included Ronald Acuna Jr. and his seven strikeouts as well as Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies. Atlanta needs its best players to play well if it has a chance to win this series, and those three are not feeling too confident at the plate heading into this series.
Everything about the Dodgers’ postseason performance should be scary to their opponents this season. Like Atlanta, Los Angeles is a perfect 5-0 in the playoffs, but it has done so with a stellar mix of pitching and hitting that hasn’t been matched by any of the three remaining teams. Los Angeles has allowed more than three runs just once in five playoff games so far and it has scored at least four runs in four of the five games. The Dodgers held a dangerous Padres lineup to just a .182 batting average and .264 on-base percentage, both of which were around 70 points worse than the regular season. Meanwhile, the Dodgers batted a cool .287 in the three-game sweep of San Diego with eight of their nine batters with at least 10 at-bats hitting .200 or better. The fact the Dodgers have experience playing in these pressure-filled games only adds to the massive advantage Los Angeles has in this series.
As much as the Braves’ pitching has the ability to give the Dodgers a scare in this series, I don’t see how Atlanta is going to score runs. The Dodgers are understandably heavy favorites on MLB playoffs betting markets, and it doesn’t seem like Los Angeles is slowing down anytime soon. The MLB postseason betting market has the Dodgers in six games as the shortest odds on the board, but I don’t know if the series makes it that long. Los Angeles’ pitching overwhelmed the San Diego lineup, so I can only imagine what it will do to Atlanta’s order. I’ll be kind and give Atlanta a game and take the Dodgers in five games at +360 odds at the New Jersey online sports betting sites. However, I won’t rule out putting money on the Dodgers to sweep the Braves at +650 odds and for the series to only last four games at +500 odds.
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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper