Dodgers vs. Braves Odds, Preview, Prediction: Does Atlanta Have Value As Home Underdog In Game 1? (October 16)
Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Max Fried
Editor’s Note: The Dodgers announced on Saturday afternoon that Corey Knebel would serve as the opener in Saturday’s game.
Dodgers vs. Braves Odds
|Time||8:07 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.|
The Los Angeles Dodgers squeaked out a victory in the National League Division Series against their noted rival San Francisco Giants.
Oddly enough, they go on the road to begin the NLCS against the 88-win Atlanta Braves because, despite winning 106 games, the Dodgers were an NL wild-card team.
Max Fried will start for the Braves, and Tony Gonsolin will go for the Dodgers. After the Dodgers essentially went through the NLDS with a three-man rotation, Gonsolin looks to enter back into his usual role as the team’s fourth starter. Fried was phenomenal down the stretch for Atlanta, so do they have some value as home underdogs?
Dodgers’ Bullpen Will Be Key
Gonsolin will not go very deep into this game, particularly if he experiences any trouble early. That said, Atlanta was unbelievably average versus right-handers since the beginning of August (102 wRC+).
Gonsolin features his four-seam fastball relatively often, and the Braves like this pitch, but they struggled immensely with his primary off-speed option, the slider, with only a .287 xwOBA against the pitch this season.
The Dodgers can hit left-handers, hence the reason they are road favorites to open the series. Their collective 123 wRC+ in that same timeframe of the regular season ranked fourth in the MLB.
However, left-handed curveballs decimated this lineup all season. They only had a .228 xwOBA and 83.8 mph exit velocity on lefty curves. Sure, the top of the order can hit Fried’s fastball, but the curve will likely keep the lineup off-balance.
The Dodgers like to use their bullpen quickly. Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen have been Los Angeles’ rocks in the ‘pen, but they will likely need a few other options.
Brusdar Graterol, Corey Knebel, Jansen, and Treinen all threw in Game 5 of the NLDS, but Dave Roberts has a tendency to pull out all of the stops when necessary. They have enough artillery in the bullpen to keep the Atlanta lineup in check.
Braves Need Offense To Back Fried
Fried was lethal in the second half of the season. He held a 1.74 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in that timespan, which is as good as it gets. He induces weak contact with the best of them (86.5 mph exit velocity). He does not walk many batters, either, so L.A. will have to be prepared to swing, and as noted above, his curve will likely negate any success the Dodgers’ batters have had against lefties this season.
The Braves are a notably weak-hitting team, especially compared to the remaining clubs in the playoffs. Their lineup is very top-heavy with only five hitters over the 100 wRC+ mark since August 1 versus right-handers.
These names include Austin Riley, Adam Duvall, Freddie Freeman and Eddie Rosario. Unfortunately, the other strong hitter versus righties is Jorge Soler and he will miss the NLCS due to COVID-19. This hinders the Braves’ success, and given how poorly they have done all season against righties, Gonsolin may go deeper into this game than anticipated.
The Braves also have about a league-average bullpen, but all relievers are likely available because they last played on Tuesday. In addition, Fried has the propensity to go six-plus innings easily. In fact, his last start with less than six innings thrown was July 23.
Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter, and Tyler Matzek would be the first arms available after Fried.
With Soler out, the Braves will not score much off of Dodgers pitching, and Fried should have success against Los Angeles hitters. The Braves’ weakest part of their team is their bullpen and they are fully rested.
Take the under in this game at 8 (+100) and play to 7.5 (-110). Runs will come at a premium.
Pick: Under 8 (+100), play to 7.5 (-110)
Author’s Note: Despite the announcement that Corey Knebel would serve as an opener for Saturday’s game, Tony Gonsolin is still expected to get the bulk of the work out of the bullpen. As such, a play on the under remains the betting recommendation.