The opening game of the National League Division Series in Atlanta on Thursday between the Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers is going to be dominated by the pitching. Los Angeles gives probably 2013’s best pitcher in baseball the ball to start for the Dodgers.
He didn’t face the Braves this year – in fact, he’s only faced them four times in his career and has pitched at Turner Field just once (in that 2011 contest he went seven innings, allowing just two earned runs while striking out ten) – but I see that as an advantage for the Dodgers’ star.
Still, despite Kershaw’s talent, it’s hard to pick the Dodgers outright. The Braves do have some factors cutting their way. The first is they’re playing at home where the team posted an impressive 56-25 record (.691 winning percentage).
Second, Kris Medlen is pitching for Atlanta in this one. Medlen is 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA over his past four starts. In general this season, he registered an excellent 2.26 ERA at home. As for his track record against the Dodgers, Medlen logged two starts against Los Angeles this year and, in 13 2/3 innings pitched he gave up just seven hits and zero earned runs.
Finally, the Dodgers have some offensive concerns to worry about themselves. Two of their key weapons at the plate, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are injured. (Kemp is completely out and Ethier is limited). As was the case with the Braves, September was not a banner hitter month for Los Angeles hitters. The team logged their worst batting average for any month in 2013 over that stretch (though they did show decent power). The upshot: These pitchers have a distinct advantage over the lineups they’re facing.
Best bet: Pick under 6 runs at 1.75 in this contest.