Los Angeles. Atlanta. Only one will advance. Who will represent the National League in the World Series?
The Dodgers have advanced to the NLCS for the fifth time in eight years, while the Braves have made it for the first time since 2001.
Los Angeles V. Atlanta
How They Got Here:
LA: Swept both Milwaukee and San Diego
Atlanta: Swept both Cincinnati and Miami
After continuing to fall short and not having won the World Series since 1988, the Dodgers made a huge splash by trading for 2018 AL MVP, Mookie Betts. Betts has transitioned into LA flawlessly, finishing the season hitting .292, with 16 homers, 39 RBIs, and an OPS of .927. He continued his dominance into the postseason, hitting .368, with four RBIs, and an OPS of 1.066. Joining Betts in the lineup is Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, and Will Smith.
Clayton Kershaw has started to finally overcome his postseason demons. In two starts, he is 2-0, with a 1.93 ERA, and 19 strikeouts. A year after blowing the teams 3-1 lead in Game Five of the NLDS against Washington, it is great to see Kershaw rebound. Behind Kershaw in the rotation, is ace Walker Buehler, rookie Dustin May, and veteran Julio Urias.
Atlanta made quick work of the Marlins promising young pitchers thanks to their stacked lineup. Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr. Ozzie Albies, Adam Duvall, Marcell Ozuna, and Travis D’Arnaud lead a well-balanced attack. While the team has yet to lose a playoff game this year, the offense has yet to fully put it together. Through five games, the offense is hitting .230, with seven homers, 23 RBIs, and an OPS of .708. To make matters worse, Atlanta has struck out a whopping 63 times. To put it in comparison, through five games, LA has only struck out 39 times. Atlanta’s offense will be facing another tough challenge in the Dodgers rotation.
If Atlanta can hand a lead to their bullpen, they will be in great shape. Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, Darren O’Day, Chris Martin, Will Smith, A.J. Minter, and Tyler Matzek have been nearly unhittable so far, allowing only one run, while striking out 25.
It will be up to Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Kyle Wright to lead the rotation. The three have combined for four shutouts in five starts. Anderson and Wright became the first pair of rookies to post back to back scoreless starts in the playoffs.
Prediction: The Dodgers are the deeper team and will not be denied another trip at going back to the World Series. LA in 6.