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2013 NLDS: 5 Bold Predictions for Los Angeles Dodgers-Atlanta Braves Series

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NLDS: 5 Bold Predictions For Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves Series

NLDS: Intriguing Match-Up Between Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SPORTS

The Atlanta Braves-Los Angeles Dodgers matchup is, in my mind, the most intriguing and entertaining matchup of any divisional series in 2013. In more than just an occasion during this season, each of the two teams were considered the best in MLB. This series will showcase why pundits believed that.

As the Dodgers are best known for their rotation and the Braves for their bullpen, this series will feature two of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. It will also feature some of the biggest and most popular names baseball has to offer. From Atlanta: Freddie Freeman, Jayson Heyward, Kris Medlen and Craig Kimbrel. From the Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig and, yes, Brian Wilson.

This is postseason baseball — you can throw most of what you saw during the regular season out the window. One rotation will shine unexpectedly, and because experience is tremendously important in October, look for certain big-name stars from the regular season to struggle in this series.

My most outrageous, yet totally conceivable prediction can be found at the end of the slideshow. It involves a certain hurler making some playoff history.

This NLDS series will go five games, that is for sure. The first four games will be split, while the fifth and final game will be won by the Braves, knocking out the NL West champion Dodgers in front of their home crowd.

Too bad Dodger Stadium doesn’t have a pool for the Braves’ celebration.

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5. Atlanta Braves Will Lose One Home Game

5. Atlanta Braves Will Lose One Home Game
Brett Davis-USA TODAY SPORTS

The Atlanta Braves held the best home record in MLB with a record of 56-25 at Turner Field in 2013. Despite this home-field advantage, the Braves will lose Games 3 and 4 after winning the first two on the road in Los Angeles. The Dodgers will be able to take these difficult road games in Atlanta because they will have better pitching matchups in those games. Hyun-Jin Ryu and his 3.00 ERA will likely go in Game 3. He will allow the Dodgers to escape the field where they were swept in May with at least one win, and help bring the NLDS back to Chavez Revine for Game 5.

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4. Atlanta's Pitching Rotation Will Shine

4. Atlanta's Pitching Rotation Will Shine
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY SPORTS

Let's face it: none of the Atlanta Braves' starters have been incredibly good this season. None rank in the top-10 in the National League in WAR, ERA, H/9, strikeout or total innings pitched. Statistically, this is very mediocre Braves rotation. However, I predict they will break out of their season-long slump and will be rejuvenated behind stud Kris Medlen and veteran Tim Hudson. The Braves' pitching staff has prided itself on the bullpen, but this NLDS will see a big-time step up from Atlanta's rotation.

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3. Dodgers' Staff Will Shut Down Freddie Freeman

3. Dodgers Staff Will Shut Down Freddie Freeman
Kevin Liles-USA TODAY SPORTS

NL MVP candidate Freddie Freeman has never played in a postseason — that is, if you don't count last season's one-game Wild Card playoff against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Dodgers' pitching rotation is one of the best in all of baseball, and I predict that a combination of the group of hurlers and Freeman's inexperience in a postseason series will lead to a slump for the 20-year-old. Freeman hit for a .319 BA with 23 home runs and 109 RBIs in 2013, but the regular season doesn't matter any more. Freeman will see some struggles in the NLDS.

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2. Yasiel Puig And Hanley Ramirez Will Struggle

2. Yasiel Puig And Hanley Ramirez Will Struggle
Jayne Kamin-Once-USA TODAY SPORTS

Much like my theory on the Braves' Freeman, the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez will also struggle in the NLDS. Neither have played postseason baseball and they will begin to falter in the pressure, especially against a Braves rotation that I expect will step up in the NLDS. Combine that with the Braves' bullpen, which is the best in baseball in my mind, and you have a recipe for disaster for the top of the Dodgers' lineup. Especially without Matt Kemp hitting behind them, look for phenoms Puig and Ramirez to not look like their regular-season selves.

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1. Clayton Kershaw Will Throw A No-Hitter

1. Clayton Kershaw Will Throw A No-Hitter
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SPORTS

There have only been two no-hitters in the history of MLB postseason, the last coming from Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010. Because Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on this planet, I predict that he will no-hit the Braves in the series' opening game. There's no real way to justify this prediction, but here's Kershaw's 2013 statistics anyway: 16-9 record, 1.88 ERA, 232 strikeouts, 0.915 WHIP and two shutouts. Those numbers are otherworldly. Look for him to deliver a historic performance in Game 1.