The Dodgers open their five game National League playoff series against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday evening with games 1 (5:37 PM PST) and 2 (6:37 PM PST) at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers have already announced that left hander Hyun-jin Ryu will start the first game. Atlanta will counter with right hander Mike Foltynewicz. The Dodgers will give the ball to Clayton Kershaw for game 2. The Braves will send Anibal Sanchez to the mound for that second game. The Dodgers and Braves faced each other seven times during the 2018 regular season. The Dodgers won five of the seven meetings between the two clubs. That includes three out of four in Atlanta. The Dodgers also won two out of three versus the Braves at Dodger Stadium.
The 26-year old Foltynewicz had has an impressive season, which includes an equally impressive pitching repertoire. The right hander has a blazing fastball that’s clocked in the upper 90’s with a sinker, curve, slider and change. Overall Foltynewicz, was 13-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts in 2018. Across 183 frames he struck out 202 and walked 68. He allowed 6.4 hits per nine while also striking out 9.9 per nine as well. He allowed 17 home runs and posted a 3.37 FIP.
Foltynewicz faced the Dodgers once this season. Back on July 27 he allowed four earned runs on six hits across five innings while striking out eight in a 4-1 loss at Sun Trust Park. Overall he is 1-1 with a 5.56 ERA in two starts versus the Dodgers. However he has a 1-0 record with a 4.26 ERA at Dodger Stadium. Let’s see how he does against the Dodgers at the Ravine this time.
The Dodgers have slashed .281/.349/.526 with an .876 OPS against Foltynewicz. They are 15 for 67 and have hit three home runs with seven runs driven in. But they’ve only collected eight extra-base hits in 63 plate appearances. Manny Machado is 4 for 6 against him. Meanwhile Yasmani Grandal has slugged two of their three home runs. The bigger problem may be that I have no idea how to spell or pronounce his name correctly. If anyone knows, please give me the info.
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The Dodgers will give the ball to Hyun-jin Ryu. This makes a lot of sense as Ryu has been one of the best if not the best starter this season for the Dodgers this season. The Korean lefty has posted a 1.97 ERA across 82.1 excellent frames this season. He’s 7-3 and has allowed just 7.4 hits per nine. Ryu has struck out 89 and walked just 15 batters. He’s posted a 9.9 strikeout per nine rate and allowed just 1.6 walks per nine too. He’s been that good folks.
In three career starts versus the Braves Ryu is 0-1 with a 2.95 ERA. Ryu has been a pretty good bet at Dodger Stadium. At Chavez Ravine he is 18-13 with a 2.85 ERA over 47 starts. He’s struck out 8.4 per nine across 284 innings pitched at home. But in 45 plate appearances the current Braves are hitting .341 (14 for 41) with a home run and three runs driven in. Former Dodger Charlie Culberson is 3 for 7 with a triple and Freddie Freeman is 5 for 8 (.625). Adam Duvall has hit the lone home run.
Ryu vs. Braves
The Braves are not to be taken lightly. Even though the Dodgers played well against them during the regular season and seem to match up well with them, that doesn’t mean this will be a cakewalk. Remember the Dodgers had lost 11 of 12 to the Mets in 1988 before the two clubs met in the NLCS. And we know what happened that year.
Freeman and veteran Nick Markakis have both had tremendous seasons. Freeman is well known around the National League but rookies Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies are just starting to make a name for themselves. Acuna hit 26 home runs and Albies smashed 24 during the regular season. Ender Inciarte can be a pest on the bases, swiping 28 of 42 bags.
As for the pitching staff, Sean Newcomb almost no-hit the Dodgers, and Anibal Sanchez has been pretty solid. Former Dodger Brandon McCarthy has supposedly retired. Julio Teheran is still a reliable mid rotation starter and somehow Johnny Venters and Peter Moylan are back in the Brave’s organization. Don’t ask me why. The Braves may be at a little disadvantage because shortstop Dansby Swanson is doubtful to play after suffering a torn ligament in his left hand. The Braves are expected to use Culberson and Johan Camargo to cover shortstop and third base duties for the time being.
This is the third time the Dodgers and Braves have met in the postseason. All of those meetings have been in the division series. The first clash was back in the 1996 NLDS when the Braves swept the Dodgers. In 2013 the two clubs battled and the Dodgers defeated the Braves in four games. Of course that series was famous for Juan Uribe’s clutch series winning home run in game four. Get ready for the annoying tomahawk chop chant to be stuck in your head for the next several weeks. Let’s hope the Dodgers can chop their way into the NLCS.