Braves vs. Dodgers in the NLDS, this should be good.
In one corner you have the brash, rule-breakin’, break-dancing Dodgers. The team that doesn’t care about partying in another team’s pool.
Across the ring are the Brian McCann and the Braves — keepers of the unwritten rules of baseball. The team that won’t allow you have even the slightest amount of fun on the diamond.
This could have headlined the old WCW Great American Bash.
Perhaps not a true narrative, but it’s interesting how these two teams qualified for the postseason.
The Braves took over first place in the NL East on April 13 and never looked back. By mid-May they were almost a 77-percent lock for the postseason.
On the other hand the Dodgers went the other way. On June 22 the Dodgers were 9.5 games behind Arizona and about an eight percent chance for the playoffs. A month later they were a half-game ahead in first en route to running away with the West. That’ a turnaround. Thanks, Yasiel.
Clayton Kershaw’s 2013 season will be long remembered, especially since the Dodgers started playing winning baseball in June. The Texan led baseball with a 1.83 ERA and 232 strikeouts. Come up with any other metrics you want, Kershaw was historically dominant this year. His ERA is the lowest since Pedro Martinez’s 1.74 in 2000 –one of the historically great seasons of all-time.
The Braves are an all or nothing team. They led the National League with 181 home runs, but also tied with the Mets for the most strikeouts with 1,384. That figure should drop with Dan Uggla and his 171 whiffs omitted from the NLDS roster. Still, the Braves have Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson in the starting lineup with 100+ strikeouts. (I have no idea how many times Kate Upton struck out this year. Probably not too often.)
If Kershaw and Zack Greinke don’t walk anyone the Braves will struggle to score runs outside of the occasional solo homer.
Player to Watch:
Kris Medlen is a Los Angeles-area native. The 27-year-old gets the ball up against the all-everything Kershaw. Medlen is no slouch. He allowed only four earned runs over 36 innings in September.
Pitching to a Dodgers lineup that will be without Matt Kemp and Andre Either, Medlen should be able to keep the Braves in it if Kershaw — as expected — is notching zeros on the scoreboard.
Tommy Lasorda is the best:
Justin Timberlake’s best pal remains one of the treasures of the baseball world.
Related: Koji Uehara: Master of the High Five