Braves: NLCS Game 6 Preview

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After an absolute bludgeoning at the hands of the Dodgers to the tune of 11-2, the Braves will be back in Atlanta tonight as they look to put this thing away. Ian Anderson will be on the mound as he looks to do better than his last start in Game 2 while the Dodgers hand the ball to Walker Buehler.

The Starters

Ian Anderson:
Season:

24 Starts; 9-5

3.58 ERA

1.231 WHIP

2.34 SO/W

Postseason:

6 Starts; 3-0

1.35 ERA

1.125 WHIP

2.46 SO/W

Walker Buehler
Season:

33 Starts; 16-4

2.47 ERA

0.968 WHIP

4.08 SO/W

Postseason:

14 Starts; 3-2

2.62 ERA

1.084 WHIP

3.39 SO/W

After a disappointing Game 2 start in which he only went 3 innings and gave up 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, Ian Anderson will look to redeem himself against the Dodgers. You could tell just from watching that Anderson wasn’t at his best as his curveball consistently hung and he didn’t have great command of his fastball. Hopefully Ian has worked on these things during his off days and can come back to pitch like we all know he can.

After all, people forgot after his last start that Ian Anderson is absolutely nails in the playoffs. That start in Game 2 was his worst in his young career and his ERA only went to a 1.35. He has only given up 4(!) earned runs in 26.2 innings in the postseason. If he can go out there and give us 6 innings of two run ball or less, then the Braves have a very good chance to punch there ticket to the World Series for the first time since 1999.

For the Dodgers, Max Scherzer was shockingly scratched from his start tonight. That doesn’t mean that he won’t make an appearance; in fact, I would probably bet on it. Dave Roberts did the same thing in Game 5 of the NLDS by starting Cory Knebel and then letting Julio Urías pitch 4 innings out of the bullpen. If it worked once, why wouldn’t it work again? Scherzer complained of “dead arm” after his Game 2 start, so this is probably their way of maximizing their use of him and putting themselves in the best position to win.

For who will start, I originally thought it be would David Price, who took Joe Kelly’s roster spot, or the cat man Tony Gonsolin. Instead, they went with Game 3 starter Walker Buehler on short rest. Buehler’s last start went pretty well for the Braves, as they got him out of the game after 3.2 innings, scoring 4 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits and 3 walks. He didn’t look like the Cy Young contender Walker Buehler, but instead like the Walker Buehler that had a 4.83 ERA in September. Hopefully that same man makes an appearance tonight while on the way to a Braves win.

The Bullpens

Braves:
Season:

3.97 ERA

1.320 WHIP

.241 AVG

Postseason:

3.79 ERA

1.320 WHIP

.241 AVG

Dodgers:
Season:

3.16 ERA

1.190 WHIP

.205 AVG

Postseason:

2.32 ERA

0.830 WHIP

.191 AVG

After Thursday’s loss, the Braves bullpen’s numbers took a huge hit. Chris Martin, Dylan Lee, and Jacob Webb each allowed runs as they covered 3.1 innings. They did good work considering the Dodgers were hitting everything, and the game seemed too far gone. Because of their sacrifice, however, the Braves high leverage guys got a much needed day to rest. Tyler Matzek had pitched in every postseason game up to that point, so it was good for him to take a game off. A.J. Minter and Will Smith both have worked pretty hard this series as well, and Luke Jackson was able to recharge after his last outing on Tuesday. The bullpen is locked and loaded and will be available to go tonight should the Braves need them.

As Thursday was a bullpen game for the Dodgers, their pitching staff is rather depleted. They got several innings from a couple of their guys, but with Scherzer not starting tonight, they’re going to have to ask them to do a little bit more. With Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol both going two innings, the burden will be that much heavier for the Dodger’s ‘pen.

The Lineups

Braves:

Eddie Rosario: .259/.305/.435; .740 OPS; 14 HR; 62 RBI; 11 SB

Freddie Freeman: .300/.393/.503; .896 OPS; 31 HR; 83 RBI; 8 SB

Ozzie Albies: .259/.310/.488; .799 OPS; 30 HR; 106 RBI; 20 SB

Austin Riley: .303/.367/.531; .898 OPS; 33 HR; 107 RBI

Joc Pederson: .238/.310/.422; .732 OPS; 18 HR; 61 RBI; 2 SB

Adam Duvall: .228/.281/.491; .772 OPS; 38 HR; 113 RBI; 5 SB

Travis d’Arnaud: .220/.284/.388; .671 OPS; 7 HR; 26 RBI

Dansby Swanson: .248/.311/.449: .760 OPS; 27 HR; 88 RBI; 9 SB

Bench:

Jorge Soler: .223/.316/.432; .749 OPS; 27 HR; 70 RBI

Guillermo Heredia: .220/.311/.354; .665 OPS; 5 HR; 26 RBI

Ehire Adrianza: .247/.327/.401; .728 OPS; 5 HR; 28 RBI

William Contreras: .215/.303/.399; .701 OPS; 8 HR; 23 RBI

Orlando Arcia: .198/.258/.309; .567 OPS; 2 HR; 14 RBI; SB

Johan Camargo: (AAA) .326/.401/.557; .958 OPS; 19 HR; 67 RBI

Dodgers:

Mookie Betts: .264/.367/.487; .854 OPS; 23 HR; 58 RBI; 10 SB

Corey Seager: .306/.394/.521; .915 OPS; 16 HR; 57 RBI; 1 SB

Trea Turner: .328/.375/.536; .911 OPS; 28 HR; 77 RBI; 32 SB

Will Smith: .258/.365/.495; .860 OPS; 25 HR; 76 RBI; 3 SB

Gavin Lux: .242/.328/.364; .692 OPS; 7 HR; 46 HR; 4 SB

Cody Bellinger: .165/.240/.302; .542 OPS; 10 HR; 36 RBI

Chris Taylor: .254/.344/.438; .782 OPS; 20 HR; 73 RBI; 13 SB

Bench:

A.J. Pollock: .297/.355/.536; .892 OPS; 21 HR; 69 RBI; 9 SB

Austin Barnes: .215/.299/.345; .644 OPS; 6 HR; 23 RBI; 1 SB

Albert Pujols: .236/.284/.433; .717 OPS; 17 HR; 50 RBI; 2 SB

Steven Souza Jr.: .152/.222/.333; .556 OPS; 1 HR; 3 RBI

Matt Beaty: .270/.363/.402; .765 OPS; 7 HR; 40 RBI; 2 SB

Andy Burns: (15 PA) .273/.467/.364; .830 OPS

The reason that I said “should they need them” in relation to the bullpen is because it would be perfectly fine by me, and I’m sure every Braves fan, if Ian Anderson threw a perfect game and the Braves scored 30 (or some mixture of the two). But in reality, that (probably) won’t happen. Anyhow, this lineup can absolutely rake and with Eddie Rosario (who the Braves traded for a panda head) seemingly becoming Mr. October 2.0, there is no limit to what they can do. And against a pitching staff that they already have success against, mind you. And with Jorge Soler back and available to come off the bench in a pinch, our bench got a much needed upgrade. And don’t forget that it’s still Joctober. He might have been quiet the past couple of games, but we all know that Joc Pederson is at his best when the game is on the line.

The Dodgers offense exploded for 11 runs on 17 hits in Game 5, which is the bad news. The good news is that 11 runs is not sustainable, even on the best days. Yes, Chris Taylor hit 3 home runs with 6 RBIs, but that’s not who he is, and he knows it. I’m not trying to diminish his accomplishments either, because baseball is an extremely difficult game to play and to keep playing. However, he is a career .261 hitter with 79 home runs in his eight years in the big leagues. With that being said, he is hotter than Louisiana Hot Sause. Kiké Hernandez for the Red Sox was going on a similar run before they were eliminated last night. Rosario is on the same type of run. If the Braves pitching staff can contain him, then they are in good shape, because not much else is happening in their lineup. Los Angeles’ top three hitters in Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Will Smith haven’t been able to consistently hit in this series. It’s instead been the Taylors, the A.J. Pollocks, and Bellingers that have given Atlanta fits. Hopefully those guys cool off, and the others stay cool.

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