With the Braves up 2-0, there’s no guarantee this series even goes past four games. However, I would be willing to bet a large chunk of change that’s not the case. The Braves have lost nine straight at Dodger Stadium — a place where the Dodgers have dominated over the years. This series is far from over, and if the Braves take their foot off of the gas, even for just a second, they’ll face the same fate as last season. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at how the pitching matchups could shake out for the remainder of the NLCS.
We know the Game 3 starters. In a battle of aces, 37-year-old Charlie Morton will attempt to put the Braves up 3-0 against Walker Buehler. Buehler is an NL Cy Young candidate, but he stumbled into the postseason, posting an ERA of 4.83 in September. However, Buehler did just fine against the Giants in the NLDS, especially in Game 4 when the Dodgers’ backs were against the wall.
For both sides, Game 4 is a question mark, and it will likely depend on the outcome of Game 3. Leading the series, I expect the Braves to go with a bullpen game of sorts, which could begin with Jesse Chavez, Huascar Ynoa, or Drew Smyly. Either way, I expect to see at least two of those guys, if not all three. Ian Anderson could also be in play since he only threw 55 pitches on Sunday night, but I still think that’s a little far-fetched on just two days of rest. The Dodgers’ scheduled starter was Julio Urias, but after blowing the lead in the eighth inning out of the bullpen on Sunday night, Dave Roberts said Urias could be pushed back to Game 5.
Dave Roberts indicated that Julio Urías could be pushed back to Game 5. He said it’ll depend on how Urías feels in the next two days.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) October 18, 2021
It will all depend on how Urias feels. Personally, I think he will be fine for Game 4, so I’m expecting him to pitch, but the Dodgers could opt to start the game with the bullpen and bring in Urias later.
For the Braves, there shouldn’t be much question about it. Max Fried will get the ball in Game 5 if necessary. The Dodgers’ original plan was to throw Max Scherzer, but following his comments after Game 2, in which he referred to his arm as “dead,” I would be surprised if we see him pitch Game 5, especially if it isn’t a must-win. The Dodgers will likely go with a bullpen game in Game 4 or 5 and Urias in the other.
If there is a Game 6, I expect Max Scherzer to start for the Dodgers. For the Braves, this is where I expect to see Ian Anderson again, who will surely have a short leash after his performance in Game 2. However, that could change if the Braves find themselves backed against a wall and facing elimination with Scherzer on the mound. If that’s the case, I expect Charlie Morton to pitch on short rest.
All hands will be on deck in a potential Game 7 matchup, but the most likely scenario is the two pitchers we have on the mound tonight will start a potential winner-take-all Game 7. Of course, a ton will change between now and then if this series does indeed go seven games, but these appear to be the most likely scenarios as we look ahead.
Thanks for reading about potential NLCS pitching matchups. If you liked this article, make sure to check out Clint Manry’s recent piece on why the Braves need to shut down the Dodgers run game.