The Los Angeles Dodgers are at a one-game disadvantage against Atlanta in the NLCS, but they have the potential to change the course of the series right away in Sunday's Game 2.
The Dodgers have the benefit of calling on Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias in the next three games to pick up an edge of their own on their quest to repeat as World Series champion.
Atlanta has a pair of solid starters lined up in Ian Anderson and Charlie Morton, but they need to be near perfect to match what the Dodgers pitching staff has to offer. Atlanta could challenge the Dodgers pitchers with its power bats, but it may be hard for it to sustain that against a pitching staff that kept the San Francisco Giants bats at bay throughout the NLDS.
Game 2: Sunday, October 17 (7:38 p.m. ET, TBS)
Game 3: Tuesday, October 19 (5:08 p.m. ET, TBS)
Game 4: Wednesday, October 20 (8:08 p.m. ET, TBS)
Game 5: Thursday, October 21 (8:08 p.m. ET, TBS)
Game 6: Saturday, October 23 (5:08 p.m. ET, TBS)
Game 7: Sunday, October 24 (7:38 p.m. ET, TBS)
Game 2: Los Angeles (-190; bet $190 to win $100); Atlanta (+160; bet $100 to win $160)
Series Price: Los Angeles (-140); Atlanta (+120)
Los Angeles in 6
Atlanta needed to get in front of the Dodgers in Game 1 because of its advantage on the mound.
Max Fried gave the NL East champion six solid innings, and three relievers did not conceded an earned run in the final three frames. Atlanta would love to follow that strategy for the rest of the series, but it may not be realistic.
Anderson did not make it out of the fifth inning in his regular-season start against the Dodgers in June. If Anderson can't match Scherzer in length and power, Atlanta will be forced to stretch out its bullpen more.
Morton has the potential to steal a game in Los Angeles. He struck out eight batters in six innings at Dodger Stadium on August 31.
Even if Morton matches that production, Atlanta is not guaranteed a victory against Buehler or Urias. The pitching rotations have not been confirmed past Game 3, but it would make sense for the Dodgers to go to those starters on regular rest in Games 3 and 4.
Buehler allowed no more than three earned runs in each of his past 11 postseason starts and gave up a single earned run in 11 innings of work in last year's NLCS win over Atlanta.
Urias was equally as impressive in the 2020 NLCS, allowing a single earned run over eight innings. He made one start and appeared in relief once. In the past four postseasons, Urias let up three earned runs in a single appearance.
If the series goes past Game 5, the Dodgers could load up their pitching order with Urias relieving Scherzer. Urias has been utilized in a relief role in previous seasons.
Atlanta does not have a comparable fourth starter and would be at a disadvantage in a crucial part of the series. Los Angeles could swing the momentum in its favor in Games 3 and 4 if it neutralizes Morton and takes advantage of a likely bullpen game in Game 4.
The NL East winners attempted to use the short-rest strategy with Morton in NLDS Game 4, but he did not make it out of the fifth inning. Brian Snitker may be hesitant to call on Fried in Game 4 and save him for Game 5 on full rest.
Atlanta has potential to break open a game with its bats, but the same could be said about Los Angeles' order. Atlanta may have a slight advantage at best, with Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley going up against Mookie Betts, Corey Seager and Justin Turner.
Los Angeles is in good position to take Game 2 behind Scherzer, and it could finish the series at home in Game 5 if everything goes right. If not, the Dodgers could use Scherzer to close out the NLCS in Atlanta in Game 6.
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or call or text the TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN).
21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/IA/CO/IL/TN only. In partnership with Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.