Many feel this will be the premiere matchup in NL, as the Dodgers travel cross-country to start their playoff series against the Atlanta Braves. The Braves won the regular season series 5-2, but as Dodger fans will point out, that all games were BP (before Puig) and their win streak in June. The Braves have the best home record in baseball, and the Dodgers have the best road record.
The Dodgers have been the sexy story for most of the MLB season. After starting the season in lackluster fashion, manager Don Mattingly found himself sitting on the hot seat. A desperate move to call rookie Yasiel Puig up changed their entire season around. Puig added the hitting firepower needed to the lineup that was decimated with injuries to stars like Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez in the second half of the season. The true gem for the Dodgers has been their starting pitching, led by ace and assumed Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. Zack Grienke can be just as solid and would be the ace on most baseball rosters.
For the Braves, making the playoffs with home field advantage is business as usual. This season they led the NL East everyday except for one. They lead the NL in home runs, all while their pitching staff was second in the NL for ERA. Ironically, the Dodgers are first. The Braves however have never faced Kershaw. B.J. Upton is the only batter on the roster to face him during his Arizona Diamondback days.
Both teams struggled in September. The Braves went 13-14, while the Dodgers were 12-15. With their playoff hopes locked up, both managers decided to rest some players in hopes they will be ready for the postseason. The Dodgers will be without Matt Kemp for the entire postseason. Andre Ethier has had only one at-bat since September 13th and Hanley Ramirez has not played in back-to-back games in quite some time.
Schedule and Possible Starters
Game 1 Today in Atlanta: Clayton Kershaw vs.Kris Medlen
Game 2 Friday in Atlanta: Zack Greinke vs. Mike Minor
Game 3 Sunday in Los Angeles: Julio Teheran vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu
Game 4 (if necessary) Monday in Los Angeles: Freddy Garcia vs. Ricky Nolasco
Game 5 (if necessary) Wednesday in Atlanta