Game 1 got off to an ugly start for the Braves. Walker Buehler was on fire, leaving Atlanta’s powerful lineup in the dust. Meanwhile, Kevin Gausman didn’t have his best stuff, and the Dodgers capitalized. He allowed five runs (three earned) over 4.1 innings but was followed by a reliable cast of relievers, that included Sean Newcomb, keeping Atlanta in the ball game.
Freddie Freeman finally broke the silence for the Braves offense in the sixth inning with a two-run blast to dead center field. Markakis added another one in the seventh with an opposite-field shot of his own. But that would be all the Braves could muster off of Buehler through seven innings, and they couldn’t cross the plate against the Dodgers’ bullpen.
Game 2 features a much more appealing pitching matchup from the Braves perspective with Max Fried (4-1, 2.11 ERA) taking on Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-1, 2.55 ERA).
Hyun-Jin Ryu’s Success Against the Braves
Ryu faced Atlanta in the first game of the NLDS a year ago. The Braves had no chance, as the Dodgers bombarded Foltynewicz, and Ryu went about his business flawlessly. The South Korean southpaw threw seven innings of scoreless baseball, allowing just four hits while striking out eight. Ryu has been on the top of his game early this season as well. He has yet to let a team score more than two runs in any start this year.
Max Fried’s time to shine
Max Fried has been the Braves best pitcher in 2019 and should be 5-1 if it weren’t’ for shoddy bullpen work. He’s consistently attacked hitters with his mid-90s fastball early on then turns to his first-class curveball when necessary. His improving slider has also allowed him to develop even further. Tonight, he returns to where he was raised to start for the first time in his career.
Fried is familiar with this Dodgers’ lineup. Remarkably, the Braves pitched him in all four games of the NLDS out of the bullpen, and he was very nearly perfect, aside from one hanging curveball that Max Muncy hit into the bleachers. Expect for Fried to bring his A-game in front of his friends and family.
Braves’ lineup needs to heat up
It seems as if every time the Braves meet the Dodgers, their bats go cold. That’s a testament to the fantastic staff Los Angeles has been able to sustain, but this is a different Atlanta team than they saw a year ago. There aren’t many holes in the Braves’ lineup anymore, and they have been among the top offenses in all of baseball. It’s time for them to wake up and show it in Los Angeles. Because frankly, I’m tired of losing to these guys, and I’m sure the players feel the same way.