Atlanta got off to a great start this season and rode it to the NL East title; LA got off to a lousy start, but rallied for an epic run to win the NL West.
Who do we think will advance to the NL championship series?
In other words, how are we going to place our MLB picks in this series?
NLDS Betting Odds
As of early this week most MLB betting outlets were listing at to win this series, with getting as the underdogs.
Dodgers-Braves NLDS Set-Up
Washington was the preseason favorite to win the NL East, but Atlanta took the lead early with a 12-1 start and cruised to another division title, finishing at 96-66 and 10 games ahead of the second-place Nationals.
On the other side of this match-up LA started slowly this season, and sat at 12 games under .500 and 9.5 games out of first place back in mid-June. But the Dodgers then went on an incredible 53-13 run to sweep to the lead in the NL West, and never looked back, winning the division by 11 games over Arizona.
Los Angeles cooled a bit after that, but then again, nobody plays .800 ball for very long, so it was understandable.
The Arms Battle
LA runs a five-man rotation, although it's hard to believe they won't give Clay Kershaw extra starts instead of Chris Capuano in these playoffs. On the season the Dodgers went 22-6 in games started by Zack Greinke, 19-11 for Hyun-Jin Ryu, 11-4 for Ricky Nolasco, 19-14 for Kershaw and 11-9 for Capuano.
Atlanta, which is likely to go with a four-man rotation in these playoffs, went 20-10 in games Julio Teheran started this year, 19-13 for Mike Minor, 18-13 for Kris Medlen and 13-13 for Paul Maholm.
So both teams have two righties and two lefties in their four-man rotation, which could give Atlanta a bit of an advantage, considering Los Angeles went just 26-27 vs. lefties this season.
In the bullpen comparison Atlanta led the Majors with a 2.46 ERA and converted 53 of 69 save chances, while LA ranked 13th with a 3.49 ERA and made good on 46 of 65 save opportunities.
The Season Series
Atlanta took the season series from LA five games to two, with five of those games playing UNDER on the totals, as the teams combined to average just over six runs per game.
But both series these teams played this year took place before the Dodgers got rolling in late June.
In the first meeting, back in May, the Braves swept three games at home from LA, as Maholm, Medlen and Minor beat Ryu, Capuano and Magill. In the second meeting the teams split four games at Dodger Stadium, as Greinke beat Hudson, Ryu beat Maholm, Medlen beat Fife and Minor beat Magill.
Dodgers-Braves With the Sticks
LA ranked ninth in team OBP this year at .326, 24th in homers with 138 and 17th in scoring at 4.0 runs per game.
Atlanta ranked 13th in OBP at .321, fifth in homers with 181 and 13th in scoring at 4.3 RPG.
Dodgers-Braves Betting Trends
LA went 45-36 on the road this season, 47-34 at Chavez Ravine.
Atlanta went a ML-best 56-25 at home this season, but 40-41 away from Turner Field.
The Dodgers went 72-83 on the OVER/UNDERS this season.
The Braves went 73-81 on the totals.
The O/Us went 33-43 in games played at Turner Field this year, 38-39 in games played at Dodger Stadium.
Follow live MLB odds at SBR.
Atlanta will host Games 1 and 2 of this five-game NLDS Thursday and Friday, before the teams move out to LA for Games 3 and, if necessary, 4 Sunday and Monday. A Game 5 would be played back at Turner Field next Wednesday.
Dodgers-Braves Injury Update
LA is without OFs Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, who are both out for the season with bad ankles. The Dodgers also lost SPs Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley along the way this year.
Over in the other dugout Atlanta C Brian McCann is dealing with a sore groin and is listed as questionable for Thursday's series opener. The Braves also lost SP Tim Hudson and a couple key relievers along the way.
Our Take on This NLDS
LA went on that great run, but cooled after that, and finished the season by losing 15 of its last 24 games. As sometimes – oftentimes – happens with teams, regardless of the sport, who go on extended winning runs during the regular season, it's entirely possible the Dodgers peaked too soon. And while LA still has some big names in its lineup, we love that Atlanta bullpen. So we'll go with the Braves for our free sports pick to win this series at +135 with 5 Dimes.