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Clayton Kerhsaw will take the mound for the Dodgers in Game 1.
Kershaw is the Dodgers' ace, presumptive NL Cy Young favorite and major league baseball’s ERA leader for each of the past three years, but this season has been his finest. He posted a 51 ERA- and 66 FIP-, each of which is the best mark of his career. His success has been driven by a career-low walk rate, which has enabled him to keep batters off base at a career-low rate as well.
A key to his success will be his ability to neutralize Atlanta’s deep lineup, which features excellent hitters from both the right (Justin Upton) and left side (Brian McCann, Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward). But Kershaw has, in fact, been able to get both lefties and righties out: He has allowed an OPS of .477 to lefties and .532 to righties.
Opposing him in the first game will be Kris Medlen, who is coming into the postseason throwing his best baseball of the year.
His full-season numbers of a 3.11 ERA and a 3.48 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, same scale as ERA) indicate an above-average pitcher, but not an ace. However, in his last six starts (dating back to August 29), he has allowed just four runs while striking out 39 and walking only eight.
The key to his success throughout his career—but especially last year during his unbelievable season—has been an ability to avoid walks, and this year continued that trend (just 5.7 percent).