Braves vs. Dodgers Game 7 Pick
Atlanta Braves (43-27) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (50-20)
When: 8:08 p.m., Sunday, October 18
Where: Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas
Starting Pitchers: Ian Anderson (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) vs. TBD
Moneyline: ATL +125/LAD -139 (BetNow - KILLER bonus! Deposit $100 to $1000 and get a dollar for dollar matching 100% Bonus!!!)
Runline: Braves +1.5/Dodgers -1.5
Which Kind of History?
As you’ve probably heard by the time you read this, history is on the side of the team that’s faced a 3-1 deficit and come back to force Game 7. Seventeen teams have won Game 5 and Game 6 to force a seventh game, and those teams are 13-4 in the decisive seventh game. However, very recent history actually turns on the Dodgers because those teams were 13-3 in the decisive seventh game until last night when the Astros failed to complete the comeback and fell to the Rays in the ALCS. Plus, the Dodgers do not have a great track record in elimination games. For the sixth consecutive year, Los Angeles has seen a series go the distance, and the Dodgers don’t exactly have the greatest track record in decisive games. Los Angeles is just 2-3 in these contests, including a loss to Washington in last year’s NLDS.
Of course, the Braves have their own poor history with elimination games, having lost four consecutive such contests. The last time the Braves won an elimination game was during the days of Smoltz, Maddux, and Glavine, as they were the ones overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the 1996 NLCS and upending the Cardinals. The one thing Atlanta does have going for it is its proud history in NLCS Game 7s, as the team has a 3-0 record all-time in NLCS Game 7s. That includes the 1992 NLCS when the Braves blew a 3-1 lead to the Pirates and became one of the four teams to win Game 7 after losing Games 5 and 6. But that game was played six years before tonight’s starter, Ian Anderson, was born.
Or lack thereof for the Dodgers, as Dave Roberts opted not to commit to any one starter for this critical game. The thinking is that Los Angeles will likely employ a three-headed monster of Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias, and Brusdar Graterol. Gonsolin is the most likely of the three to pitch for extended periods, given that he’d be pitching on regular rest. But after the Braves easily won the second game, Roberts might have a short hook in place for Gonsolin. If strikeouts go on the board, it might be wise to take the under and bank on a short start.
For Atlanta, the plan is actually fairly straightforward: go with Anderson for as long as he’s getting outs. The Braves would love to see Anderson pitch six sharp innings and hand the game to the bullpen before getting to closer Mark Melancon. But that might not be realistic for the 22-year-old, and truth be told, Atlanta will be thrilled to get to the fifth with the lead. The Braves have ridden Anderson’s changeup to great success, but this will be the second time the Dodgers are seeing it, and it might not be as effective the second or even third time through the lineup.
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A Game 7 tests a manager like nothing else, and Atlanta will need to use its bullpen to its greatest advantage. With a universal DH in 2020, the Braves have opted to go heavy on pitching, and Brian Snitker likely will not hesitate to use all of them if that’s what it takes to get a win in this game. The only man who probably isn’t available to Snitker is Max Fried, who threw Game 6 for the Braves. Plus, if the Dodgers force Atlanta into problematic situations, the Braves have the arms needed to work around the three-batter minimum. The rule does not apply if a reliever gets the final out of the inning, so look for Atlanta to change pitchers as soon as the Dodgers get a rally going and at least one out.
For the Dodgers, their bullpen isn’t as big a strength as it is for Atlanta, but they potentially have the biggest ace in the deck in Clayton Kershaw. However, that backfired hard on the Dodgers last season against the Nationals. Walker Buehler outdueled Stephen Strasburg for six innings before running into trouble in the seventh, leading to Kershaw coming out of the pen to try for the final out. Kershaw gave up two runs to tie the game, and the Nationals then won it by getting into the Dodgers’ bullpen. Kershaw is available after pitching Game 4, but after last season, it’s far more likely that Roberts only goes to him to start an inning after a Dodger reliever closes out a Braves rally in a previous inning.
- The Dodgers are 8-3 in their past 11 playoff games.
- The Dodgers are 3-5 in their past eight against the NL East.
- The Braves are 8-2 in their past ten games after a loss.
- The Braves are 16-7 in their past 23 against the NL West.
- The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
- The Braves have won five of the past eight meetings.
The wind is blowing south at eight miles an hour, which will push balls in and toward the third-base line. The roof might be ordered closed with temperatures at 85 degrees, but MLB has been reluctant to close the Texas roof to limit the risk of COVID-19.
Both teams have been here before, and both teams have come out with losses before. However, the Dodgers are the ones who believe the window is closing, while the Braves are set up for long-term success. That means Atlanta, even after leading 3-1, is playing with house money by even being in this situation in the first place, and they’ve got the better bullpen to back them up.
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