The Dodgers travel to the east coast to take on the Braves in Game 1 of the NLCS.
It is no secret that the NLDS between the Giants and Dodgers felt like the World Series. The games were hard-fought and took energy out of both sides. Despite saying all of the right things to the media following their Game 5 victory and clinching the series, it will be interesting to see if the Dodgers can maintain that competitive edge early in the series against Atlanta.
The Braves also face a challenge, as they have not played in a few days and will need to capture the momentum early against the Dodgers. However, they will have the advantage of being well-rested.
Let’s take a look at the game preview and MLB betting odds for Game 1 of the ALCS.
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Betting Odds & Betting Lines
The betting lines at Betonline have the Dodgers at -210 and the Braves at +180 as well.
Dodgers Preview: Trust in Mad Max (as long as he gets the nod)
Following their victory against the Giants, Dave Roberts stated that he would speak with Max Scherzer on Friday and decide if Scherzer would be ready to start on Saturday after he pitched the final inning to close out the series on Thursday.
Although Scherzer has not yet officially been named the starter, all signs are pointing towards Mad Max toeing the rubber as Roberts said this on Friday;
“He’s going to go out and play catch and get treatment, and if says he’s good to go he’ll be our Game 1 starter.”
So if Scherzer does get the nod, the Dodgers will be in a terrific position. He has looked sharp so far in the postseason, throwing 12 ⅓ innings with 16 strikeouts and only two earned runs. He also knows how to pitch to these Braves hitters, as he had pitched in the National League East since 2015 before being traded to LA this season.
On the off chance that the Dodgers decide to save Scherzer for Game 2, Tony Gonsolin would likely be the next man up.
Braves Preview: The Infield Packs a Punch
Braves’ second baseman Ozzie Albies made waves a few weeks ago when he declared that Atlanta had the best infield in all of baseball. While the Dodgers may have something to say about that, there is no debating that the Braves infield is very impressive.
Albies is a power and speed threat at second base, Dansby Swanson is a balanced shortstop with tremendous fielding ability and has developed into a productive hitter, and third baseman Austin Riley has emerged as a legitimate power threat and RBI producer hitting in the middle of the lineup.
Oh, and there is that guy named Freddie Freeman over at the first base. Freeman is not only the reigning National League MVP but also is the heart and soul of this team.
The Braves have a deep lineup, and it is led by these four studs.
Getting the start for Atlanta in Game 1 is the left-hander Max Fried. Since August, Fried has been excellent pitching to the tune of an ERA under 2. He continued his success against the Brewers in the Division Series but will have his work cut out for him against this dangerous Dodgers lineup.
Under the Radar Players to Watch
Can Joc Pederson find a way to torment his former organization?
The righty masher has been locked in at the dish this postseason, as he already has two home runs and 5 RBI’s. There is no guarantee that Pederson will even start this game, but expect him to get his name called late in a clutch situation and try to keep “Joctober” in full effect.
For the Dodgers, I want to keep an eye on both of the Turners. Trea and Justin combined to go an abysmal 4-42 at the plate during the division series. Trea Turner still was excellent on the defensive side of things, but these are two bats LA needs to wake up in the Championship Series.
Perhaps, facing a lefty such as Fried could lead to some quality at-bats for both players.
Prediction: Who Jumps Out to a 1-0 Series Lead?
The Braves are confident, well-rested, and have their ace on the mound at home. The cards line up perfectly if they are going to defeat LA in Game 1. I get that the odds favor the Dodgers, but they are going to favor the Dodgers in probably every game this series.
I also know that betting against the Dodgers is always a risky strategy, but what kind of sportswriter would I be if I never took risks?
The Braves not only have a solid bullpen, but their amount of depth from an offensive perspective is ridiculous. We discussed Pederson already, but they also have the power-hitting Jorge Soler, RBI Machine Adam Duvall, and the reliable Eddie Rosario, amongst others.
Despite the talent of the Dodgers bullpen, my MLB betting pick is for the Braves to win Game 1.