The Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves are set to square off in the NLDS starting on Thursday. Here are two important x-factors for the series.
The first step in the Los Angeles Dodgers quest to end their 30 year World Series win drought starts Thursday. The Dodgers will be facing the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS with games one and two at Dodger Stadium.
It’s a far cry from when the Dodgers found themselves 10 games behind first place at 16-26 at the beginning of the season. The Dodgers have righted the ship and now find themselves with a chance to do what they couldn’t do last year, finish as World Series champions.
In order for that to happen, first, the Los Angeles Dodgers have to get through the Braves and these are the x-factors for the series.
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In his short Dodgers career, Yasmani Grandal has proven himself adept at carrying a pitching staff, known as one the best catchers at being able to frame the ball and get strikes. Grandal is also one of the better slugging catchers leading the National League in home runs with 89 since joining the Dodgers.
Unfortunately, Grandal is a player of two halves, much like the rest of his career, Grandal was one of the better offensive weapons in the first half of 2018. He hit 13 of his 24 home runs in the first half of the season while hitting .250.
Starting with the month of August Grandal’s season went into a tailspin, he got just 12 hits in 74 at bats while striking out 27 times, the most of any month this year.
Grandal’s turned it around over the last month as he hit .270 with nine extra base hits. If the Dodgers are going to beat the Braves they’ll need the Grandal to continue his hot streak and avoid reverting to his August woes.
One of the Dodgers’ strengths when it comes to generating offense is getting the starting pitcher out the game. The Dodgers lead the National League in walks, while also driving in over 90 runs during the third, fourth, and fifth innings.
These kind of skills will drive up pitch counts and get starters out sooner, making teams use their bullpens much sooner.
For the series the Dodgers want the Braves bullpen to make an appearance, the sooner the better. Braves relievers batting average allowed is .241 compared to the starters .222. Over the 7-9th innings Braves pitchers batting average is .238, higher than the previous innings along with a 3.93 ERA.
The Dodgers best chances for success against the Braves pitching is to get the starters out and get to the bullpen.