Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Sunday, October 18, 2020 at 8:15 p.m. ET (FOX) at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas
Ian Anderson has been announced as the Braves’ starting pitcher for tonight’s series-deciding clash with the Dodgers. Anderson relies primarily on his fastball, which he throws almost half the time. It’s his favorite pitch in nearly every scenario against both left- and right-handed batters.
Given his reliance on this pitch, it’s crucial for him to be effective with it. And he is. In the regular season, opponents batted .192 against this pitch. One positive aspect of his fastball is its above-average velocity. His second favorite pitch is his change-up, which he throws 30.8 percent of the time. Anderson’s change-up has pretty good movement and he concentrates its location low in the strike zone or below the batter’s knees.
Right behind his change-up in usage frequency is Anderson’s curveball.
Like his change-up, his curveball is a significant whiff generator — based on whiff percentage — with the change of pace that it introduces, with its level of movement, and with its mostly low-level location. Whereas opponents hit .104 against his change-up, they are strongest when facing his curveball, which yields a .263 BA. Still, two solid pitches and another serviceable one is all that one can ask for.
Overall, Anderson shows strong command. He’s allowed one homer all season and that was in his professional debut, which was also his season debut.
I like the fact that Anderson is comfortable throwing a change-up and curveball. The Dodgers have some heavy left-handed bats — Corey Seager is one, for example — and these two pitches are classic weapons against opposite-handled batters.
Lefties, during the regular season, actually did worse against Anderson. Whereas righties hit .200 against him, left-handed batters hit .145 against him. Given his effective pitching repertoire, Anderson has accumulated a redoubtable resume.
In 15.2 playoff innings thus far, Anderson has yet to give up an earned run. Anderson has performed superbly despite matching up poorly with some of the lineups he has faced. Based on his success against lineups that one would expect to perform well given their numbers against his types of pitches, Anderson’s form is currently trumping any match-up advantage that an opposing lineup may enjoy.
Other Atlanta Pitchers
In a Game 7 situation, everybody will be available. Based on their freshness and reliability, some guys seem more likely to appear.
Mark Melancon, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in 5.1 postseason innings, is very fresh. Shane Greene allowed a rare run in his third appearance, which was his third consecutive in three days in this series. Now he has recuperated and is ready to go. Greene has allowed one run in 3.2 innings thus far against Los Angeles.
Who Will Start For The Dodgers?
Officially, manager Dave Roberts hasn’t declared who will start for Los Angeles. At best, Roberts has said that Tony Gonsolin will make an appearance. Gonsolin is capable of enduring several innings. (at press time, no decision has been made - editor's note)
But after allowing five runs to these Braves on Tuesday, he’s now allowed a combined total of nine runs in his past two starts. Plus, Brave batters match up quite well with him.
Gonsolin throws a fastball and split-finger with combined 77.7 percent frequency. They are his two favorite pitches. Atlanta, though, ranks fourth in slugging against these pitches from righties.
Clayton Kershaw could make an appearance. Like in last year’s NLCS and in Kershaw’s appearance on Thursday, Roberts relied on Kershaw in the second half of the game. And, in typical fashion, Kershaw blew his team’s hopes in a playoff game.
This is where I perceive a great advantage for Atlanta. Because both pitchers gladly endure multiple innings, the Braves’ potential advantage will repeatedly be there for them to take. As always, watch out for Freddie Freeman. He has a hit in seven straight contests. In four of them he accrued two hits.
Between Anderson continuing to be lights-out and Atlanta having a number of other quality and in-form relievers to rely upon, Atlanta has sufficient options to keep L.A.’s scoring extremely low. Meanwhile, Atlanta will exploit especially Gonsolin and (Kershaw.
For the above reasons, take the Braves to win as the underdog with your MLB Picks.