Previewing the 2021 NLCS: Dodgers vs. Braves
The Dodgers and the Braves battle for the National League pennant.
In a rematch of last year’s NLCS, the Los Angles Dodgers take on the Atlanta Braves for a chance at the World Series. Last year, the Dodgers came back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Braves. Can they do it again this year?
It wasn’t an easy road for either team to get here. Despite winning 106 games, the Dodgers were relegated to Wild Card status. They had to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild card. Then, they engaged in a five-game series against the best team in MLB, the San Francisco Giants. That classic was decided by a questionable call by the first base umpire.
After spending more time in third place this season than first, the Braves won the NL East. They’ll enter the NLCS with three of their best players – Mike Soroka, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Marcell Ozuna out for one reason or another.
This year, Los Angeles and Atlanta faced off six times. Here’s how each team fared against one another.
|DODGERS||106||56||+269||4 – 2||+4|
|BRAVES||88||73||+134||2 – 4||-4|
NLCS Positional Matchups
One of the greatest strengths the Dodgers have over the Braves is their depth. This season, they lost Max Muncy to injury, and Cody Bellinger has not performed to his potential. Still, they feature a potent lineup with Trea Turner, Corey Seager, and Mookie Betts.
Similarly, Atlanta lost its best player, Ronald Acuña Jr., and outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Fortunately, they put enough pieces around to win enough games to win their division. Adam Duvall was one of baseball’s best sluggers, and Eddie Rosario’s versatility has really come in handy.
Here’s how both teams fare by position:
|C – Travis d’Arnaud – 78 wRC+ | 7 HR||C – WIll Smith – 130 wRC+ | 25 HR|
|1B – Freddie Freeman – 135 wRC+ | 31 HR||1B – Matt Beaty – 114 wRC+ | 7 HR|
|2B – Ozzie Albies – 107 wRC+ | 30 HR||2B – Trea Turner – 142 wRC+ | 28 HR|
|3B – Austin Riley – 135 wRC+ | 33 HR||3B – Justin Turner – 127 wRC+ | 27 HR|
|SS – Dansby Swanson – 98 wRC+ | 27 HR||SS – Corey Seager – 147 wRC+ | 16 HR|
|LF – Eddie Rosario – 133 wRC+ | 7 HR||LF – A.J. Pollock – 137 wRC+ | 21 HR|
|CF – Adam Duvall – 103 wRC+ | 38 HR||CF – Chris Taylor – 113 wRC+ | 20 HR|
|RF – Jorge Soler – 132 wRC+ | 14 HR||RF – Mookie Betts – 131 wRC+ | 23 HR|
In all, the Dodgers have one of the best offenses in the National League. Their 106 wRC+ is the 2nd best in the NL and their 237 homers rank fourth in MLB. For that reason, they have the offensive edge in this series.
NLCS pitching matchups
From la lomita, things are a little bit more lopsided. Each team’s top three starters are top tier. Unfortunately for the Braves, the Dodgers’ starters might just be on another stratosphere altogether.
Here’s how each team’s top three starters fare against one another:
|Charlie Morton – 3.34 ERA | 4.6 fWAR||Walker Buehler – 2.47 ERA | 5.5 fWAR|
|Max Fried – 3.04 ERA | 3.8 fWAR||Max Scherzer – 2.46 ERA | 5.4 fWAR|
|Ian Anderson – 3.58 ERA | 1.9 fWAR||Julio Urías – 2.96 ERA | 5.0 fWAR|
In terms of pitching, it isn’t even close. The Dodgers’ top three starters are all NL Cy Young candidates capable of shutting down any lineup.
This paired with their offensive prowess leads me to believe that this series won’t be close. The Dodgers will eliminate the Braves in five games.
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