The Atlanta Braves have a tough road ahead of them to get to the World Series
The Giants and the Dodgers just finished an epic matchup to decide who would advance to the National League Championship Series to face the Atlanta Braves. The evenly matched NLDS came down to the final inning, and just one run separated the last game of the series.
The Dodgers and the Giants had the two best records in the National League and have very solid rosters on paper, thus making it almost an impossible task to decide which team you would want to face if given a choice.
The choice is not up to the Atlanta Braves, and it has been determined that the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves will battle it out to advance to the World Series.
There is reason to be optimistic that the Dodgers were ultimately a better matchup for the Atlanta Braves
It seems almost impossible to fathom that it could be a good thing that the Atlanta Braves are facing the Dodgers again in a playoff series. However, statistically, some signs show the Atlanta Braves have hope to be successful, which they would not have had against the Giants.
Let’s look at how these teams did against each other. The Atlanta Braves played both the Dodgers and Giants six times each. The Braves were 3-3 against the Giants, and all six games were in the second half. The Braves were 1-2 away and 2-1 at home.
Against the Dodgers, the Braves were 2-4. The Braves were 2-1 at home; the Dodgers swept the Braves in the second half while playing in Los Angeles.
Six games are a tiny sample size, but some statistical analysis should help paint a clearer picture
Against the Giants in 2021, the Braves scored 23 runs and gave up 18, equating to scoring 3.83 runs per game and giving up three runs per game. But, in the second half, the Braves only scored eight runs in three games while playing in San Francisco.
Against the Dodgers in 2021, interestingly, the Braves scored the same number of runs per game against the Giants. The Braves gave up 4.33 runs per game against the Dodgers and four in the second half.
How did the rotations do against each other?
It is important to note that these run outputs could be drastically different in the playoffs because typically, the rotation shrinks from a 5-man rotation to a 3-man rotation. For example, Drew Smyly gave up five runs against the Dodgers in one start. That is not going to happen in the playoffs. Also, The Dodgers will not have Clayton Kershaw or Trevor Bauer.
With that being said, let’s see how the rotations stack up:
- Giants top 3 (Logan Webb, Kevin Gausman, and Anthony DeSclafani) vs. the Braves – 2.7 ERA
- Dodgers top 3 (Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler, and Julio Urias) vs. the Braves – 2.7 ERA
- Braves top 3 (Charlie Morton, Max Fried, and Ian Anderson) vs. the Giants – 2.76
- Braves top vs. Dodgers – 3.29 ERA
It should be noted that Anderson only faced the Dodgers once, and he gave up four runs in 4.1 innings, inflating that ERA a bit.
Keys to why the Dodgers are a better matchup for the Atlanta Braves
Because the Dodgers are a wild card team, the Braves default to having home-field advantage for the NLCS, even though the Dodgers have a much better overall record.
Even though home-field advantage can be overvalued at times, it will directly affect the Braves’ Ian Anderson. Should the Braves and Dodgers go seven games, there is a possibility that Ian Anderson starts twice.
With the Braves having a potential four games at home instead of 3, Brian Snitker can opt only to start Anderson at home.
Anderson has been a much better pitcher at home than away. Some key numbers for Anderson are drastically different 1.125 at home vs. 1.328 WHIP away, 2.59 SO/W ratio at home to 2.16 away, and 70 OPS+ against at home to 97 OPS+ away.
Finally, if we look at the underlying metrics, it is a massive advantage for the Atlanta Braves to face the Dodgers.
According to David Adler:
- Braves vs. Dodgers’ top three — .421 slugging percentage, .302 xwOBA
- Braves vs. Giants’ top three — .247 slugging percentage, .296 xwOBA
- Braves vs. Dodgers’ top three — .296 xwOBA, .365 xSLG, 4% strikeout rate
- Braves vs. Giants’ top three — .312 xwOBA, .406 xSLG, 17.2% strikeout rate
As can be seen, based on the underlying metrics, over a sample of more than six games, there is a good possibility that the outcomes could be drastically different. Combining these metrics and that the Dodgers are down two top-tier starting pitchers could be a blessing in disguise that the Braves ended up playing the Dodgers instead of the Giants.