The Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the most potent lineups in Major League Baseball, but one thing was clear if the team qualified for the 2013 postseason–Any series opponents were going to have to deal with the Dodgers killer starting pitching. Here’s a look at the 3 probable pitching matchups for the Dodgers’ Division Series against the Atlanta Braves.
Game 1: Clayton Kershaw (16-9) vs Kris Medlen (15-12)
Clayton Kershaw pitched at a level that was unmatched by anyone in the Majors. He was the first starting pitcher with a sub 2.00 ERA since Roger Clemons in 2005 (acquitted in perjury trial this summer), or more wholesomely Pedro Martinez in ’00, Kevin Brown in ’96, Greg Maddux in ’95, and the last Dodger pitcher since the last of Sandy Koufax‘s 3 times under 2.00 in ’66. More spectacular than Kershaw’s 1.83 ERA, was his 1.54 ERA at home. But Kershaw will face the Braves potent lineup on the road where he was 8-3 with 104 Ks.
Kris Medlen posted a stellar 2.26 ERA at home, a big iprovement from his road ERA. But worse news is Medlen is 3-0 in his career against the Dodgers with a Kershaw-kryptonite ERA of 1.23. With his NL East experience Hanley Ramirez has seen him the most, and is one of the few to have success against the young righty with a homer and 2 RBIs in 9 at bats.
Medlen’s success against the Dodgers is worrisome, especially since it is unclear what the Dodgers outfield will look like. But the Atlanta Braves as a team struck out the third most in the Majors. And considering Clayton Kershaw struck out the most batters in the NL, and c’mon, it is Kershaw, it’s obvious who gets the edge. EDGE: Kershaw
Game 2: Zack Greinke (15-4) vs Julio Tehran (14-8)
Neither team has announced their Game 2 starters yet. Actually Don Mattingly hasn’t formerly announced his Game 1 starter as of yet. But both he and Fredi Gonzalez are playing it close to the vest. Zack Greinke has proven to be every bit worth the big contract to this point in the year. He is 7-2 on the road this year with an ERA just over 3.00.
Julio Tehran is pitching his first full season at the big league level. The young right hander has shown impressive stuff and consistency. But this is his first trip to the postseason.
Greinke is a veteran pitcher with postseason experience which will give him the edge. But as Milwaukee’s ace in 2011, in the postseason he was 1-1 and allowed a concerning 23 hits and 15 runs in 16.2 innings. I’ll take Greinke’s experience and spectacular 2013 over Tehran, but Greinke’s previous postseason experience is cause for concern. EDGE: Greinke
Game 3: Hyun Jin Ryu (14-8) vs Mike Minor (13-9)
In my opinion, Hanley Ramirez is the piece that completes the lineup both with his bat and his defense. But Hyun Jin Ryu is the piece for the pitching staff that makes this Dodgers pitching staff both deep and dangerous. In his first year in the big leagues he is well in the NL Rookie of the Year conversation. His home ERA is predictably better than his road ERA, but his 7-4 record is identical for each.
Left hander Mike Minor has been devastating on the road this year. The Dodgers have experienced a little success against him, but his road ERA against the whole league this year is 2.76.
Ryu is not a normal rookie pitcher. He comes to the Dodgers with plenty of professional experience. Additionally Ryu is at his best when he is pitching out of trouble. He seems to get that double play ball or big strikeout whenever he needs it. But that being said, the Dodgers only batted .253 against left-handed pitching all season. Slight EDGE: Minor
The Dodgers experience in the starting pitching department give them the edge here, but if the Braves pitchers come out hot, the Dodgers will be in trouble if they have to come from behind against Craig Kimbrel late in the game.