The Atlanta Braves will square off against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. For two teams that basically ran away with their divisions and have star power throughout the lineup and pitching staff, can we say who really has the edge heading into this series?
We can, and because of better depth all the way around, it is the Braves.
By first looking at the lineup, the Braves’ bench is balanced with speed, power and defense. Evan Gattis, Elliot Johnson and Jordan Schafer will lead the bench. When you look at the Dodgers, the veteran trio of Michael Young, Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston Jr. is nice, but comes up short to that of the Braves.
The lineup itself has a clear edge at catcher, third base and left field for the Braves, as well as fairly even numbers at first and in center solely because of B.J. Upton’s defensive efforts and speed. The Dodgers do have Yasiel Puig, but is he enough to carry an entire lineup? The duo of Chris Johnson and Freddie Freeman is deadly and will wreak havoc on the Dodgers’ pitching staff.
When we make our way to pitching, the edge again goes to the Braves on the strength of their bullpen. They have a top-three closer in the game in Craig Kimbrel and have also gotten career years from Luis Avilan and David Carpenter. Kenley Jansen has been good and the Brian Wilson resurgence has been nice, but I think the Braves’ lineup can get to the starters early and force the bullpen to throw a ton of innings.
Both teams rely on their pitching but have offenses that can get the job done. When you look at the numbers, the Braves have the slight edge in ERA (3.18 to 3.25) and also in runs scored (688 to 649). When it comes down to it, the Braves are slightly better pretty much across the board, giving them the edge in a short five-game series with home-field advantage.