The Atlanta Braves scored two walk-off victories in a row in Los Angeles to start the NLCS. Now, they’ll head to LA with the opportunity to complete the job they failed to finish against the Dodgers in last year’s matchup.
Atlanta took a 2-0 lead in the 2020 NLCS, and also held a 3-1 lead over Los Angeles after four games.
LA turns to Buehler to get back into series
But the Dodgers rallied to win the final three games, the NLCS, and eventually, a World Series championship.
Last year, the Dodgers didn’t have the opportunity to stage a comeback at home. Major League Baseball held its playoffs in neutral locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the NLCS taking place at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. This time around, Los Angeles comes home for three straight games, presenting an opportunity for the defending champions to recover from their slow start.
FanDuel Sportsbook now sees the Braves as a -200 favorite over the Dodgers (+168) in the overall series. Considering Los Angeles must win four of the next five games to advance, those odds show how formidable the Dodgers are – in perception, at the very least.
Sure enough, the Dodgers come into Game 3 as a substantial -190 favorite. Los Angeles will start Walker Buehler (16-4, 2.47 ERA), who was solid in two starts against the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS. That’s more than enough to give his teammates confidence heading into Tuesday’s critical game.
“We got Walk going Game 3, so if the baseball sayings are right, you’re only as good as your next day’s starting pitcher,” Dodgers starter Max Scherzer said. “And so we got Walk going on the mound, and we definitely believe we can win with him.”
The Braves will counter with Charlie Morton (14-6, 3.34 ERA). The 37-year-old veteran has experience pitching big games at Dodger Stadium, including winning the clinching game of the 2017 World Series for the Astros there.
Braves wary of repeating last year’s NLCS mistakes
Atlanta already holds a massive advantage in the NLCS, as teams holding 2-0 leads in best-of-seven postseason series in MLB have won those series 84% of the time. If they push that lead to 3-0, they will nearly assure themselves of a spot in the World Series. To do so, the Braves will have to put the memories of last year’s collapse behind them.
“I think it’s probably a year’s more maturity as a club and experience in what we did,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker told reporters. “I’ve said before we found out how hard it is to win a game and you can’t take anything for granted and you got to go into, you got to go after today. But I think with a year’s experience and in the same position, that these guys are better versed for it right now.”
The Braves’ advantage in the NLCS has made them the favorites to win the World Series. FanDuel lists Atlanta as the +200 first pick to take the title this year, ahead of the Red Sox (+240), Dodgers (+290), and Astros (+340).