The Los Angeles Dodgers will start their postseason campaign to reach a second straight World Series on Thursday night, as the NL West champions host the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of their NLDS matchup.
The Braves completed an impressive turnaround this season, winning the NL East after finishing 25 games behind the Washington Nationals in the division last year.
LA Back in Playoffs After Turbulent Season
The Dodgers won their division after beating the Colorado Rockies in a one-game tiebreaker on Monday. It was the culmination of a wild season for Los Angeles, which battled injuries and inconsistency to end up back in the playoffs as the NL West champions for the sixth year in a row.
�The adversity that we went through this year, the ups and downs, being down 10 games, coming back, having the lead, losing the lead, then having to come down to a Game 163 was just an incredible road,� Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner told MLB.com. �It�s going to make us a lot better for it. We weren�t given anything.�
The Dodgers won four of the six meetings between the two teams during the regular season. But Los Angeles is well aware that the Braves have a talented roster that will pose plenty of problems in this series.
�They�ve got a lot of good players over there,� said Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy. �They�ve got a guy who was in the MVP running with Freddie Freeman. They�re not going to be easy.�
There will be one major difference for the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS this year. While ace Clayton Kershaw has started the opening playoff game for Los Angeles in each of the first five years, it will instead by Hyun-Jin Ryu who gets the ball on Thursday, while Kershaw pitches Game 2.
The decision will allow both Ryu (7-3, 1.97 ERA in the regular season) and Kershaw (9-5, 2.73 ERA) to pitch on five days rest when they take the mound. The move was also made with the knowledge that Kershaw could still potentially pitch in a Game 5 should the series go that far. Meanwhile, the Braves will start Mike Foltynewicz (13-10, 2.85 ERA) in Game 1.
Rockies Win Thriller to Reach NLDS
The other NLDS matchup sees the NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers take on the Rockies, who won NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday night 2-1 over the Chicago Cubs in 13 innings. That epic encounter could leave the Rockies fatigued heading into Milwaukee on Thursday, though that wasn�t a concern after they pulled off the extra innings victory.
�I think this will go down as a Major League Baseball classic,� Colorado manager Bud Black said after the win. �We feel good about how we played. That�s what I think is the most important thing here, how we played as a team and how the contributions came from so many guys.�
While Colorado has announced that Antonio Senzatela (6-6, 4.38 ERA) will start in Game 1, Milwaukee has yet to announce who they�ll send to the mound to open the series.
The two winners in the NLDS round will meet in the NL Championship Series (NLCS) for a best-of-seven clash to determine who goes to the World Series. William Hill has the Dodgers as the 15/8 pick to win the National League, ahead of the Brewers (2/1), Rockies (5/2), and Braves (5/1).