The Los Angeles Dodgers skirted disaster by winning Game 5 over Atlanta. With Houston coming from behind a 0-3 deficit to tie Tampa Bay, the Dodgers have to feel confident about forcing a deciding game.
Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Saturday, October 17, 2020 – 4:38 pm EDT at Globe Life Park
Credit Dave Roberts' club, they kept battling, settled down to the plate and stopped trying for home runs (unless they happen organically) and just put the bat on the ball like Wednesday’s conflict and won 7-3 to extend the series.
Now the pressure is on both teams, Los Angeles wants to force a Game 7, and Atlanta prefers to avoid one. The pitcher matchup is a beauty and a rematch of the series opener with Max Fried taking on Walker Beuhler and YouWager has the Dodgers as -150 favorites with the total at Over 8 (-115) for MLB odds.
The Breakdown of the Pitching
Both managers will gladly put the ball in the hands of their ace pitchers and hope they can go at least six innings.
The Braves' Fried (7-0, 2.35 ERA) gives his team an excellent chance to win because in 14 starts this season, Atlanta has won 13 times. The left-hander’s control has been impeccable with two walks in his last four outings covering 18 innings.
Oddly, Buehler (1-0, 3.26) has only one decision in 11 starts and that is a direct result of blisters on his pitching hand that has limited his length of outings and his effectiveness. L.A. is 9-2 when the right-hander takes the ball but he’s averaging a walk an inning in 11 postseason innings, which could spell trouble.
With no days off, going to the bullpen has become a hope and a prayer for both managers since the series began, truly not knowing what they are going to get. While the analytics crowd has the data that says starting pitchers start giving up runs the third time through the lineup, the L.A. bullpen has allowed 16 runs (14 earned) in five games, which is 3.2 per game and the Atlanta relievers are at 23 runs surrendered (22 earned) and that is 4.6 RPG.
The Dodgers Need A Spark to Win
Los Angeles in this series too frequently has played listlessly. While skipper Roberts was trying to make excuses, his team too often play California Cool. In both victories and the near come from behind loss in Game 2, it’s been one key hit that has ignited the Dodgers offense. Yesterday, it was Will Smith’s three-run bomb (off of pitcher Will Smith) that put Roberts' club ahead for good.
A likely candidate to trigger L.A. is Corey Seager, who has eight hits in 20 at-bats in this series — 6 for extra bases and 4 for home runs, two of which came last night.
If not him then Mookie Betts, who had two base-knocks Friday night and could be coming out of his slump.
The Dodgers showed resolve last night, but can they do it again?
Atlanta Has to Do Their Thing
Many baseball experts have marveled about Atlanta’s execution in the series. Other than one inning in Game 3 and two innings last night, the Braves have decidedly outplayed and outfought their opponent in this series.
The clutch hits have been plentiful off the bats of Freddie Freeman, Marcel Ozuna, and Ozzie Albies. The defense has only one error in the series and the pitching for the most part has done the job.
This is a confident squad that saw its starting pitching wiped out during the regular season, yet young guys stepped up and the offense did the rest. In watching the camera showing the dugouts, you don’t see discouragement in the Atlanta faces as we have from L.A. because they know they belong in this spot, with the Dodgers acting like it’s their rite.
After three consecutive blowouts, what is in store for MLB picks in this encounter? In terms of the trustworthiness of the starting pitching, that appears to be Fried. If Buehler continues to walk hitters, at some juncture that leads to giving up runs.
Both offenses have found a rhythm and as long as they go to the dish with the intent to put the bat on the ball, they’ll likely have success. Dodger Blue entered this season and the NLCS as the favorite, but now they will have to prove it, again.
The Braves have won eight of 10 in the postseason and are 8-1 off a setback in their last nine tries and are very much a live dog in this matchup.