East Coast against West Coast is the matchup in this series. The Atlanta Braves finished the 2013 season with 96 wins — the second-best total in all of baseball. The Braves have made the postseason nine times since 2000, but haven’t won the World Series since 1995.
On the other side of the diamond, the Los Angeles Dodgers were brought from the NL West cellar to baseball relevancy. This team was in last place in the division early in the season before bringing Yasiel Puig in to light a fire under this squad and earn them a division title for the first time since 2009.
Atlanta is in good hands with Freddie Freeman and Chris Johnson leading the potent lineup. While these two guys might have the best averages on the team, Justin Upton is the X-factor. Having a hot start to the season had people talking about an MVP, but he has since cooled off. In fact, he had a .298 average with 12 home runs and 19 RBI in April, but saw his average drop and hit just 15 home runs for the rest of the season. If he can get it together, watch out.
Like I said earlier, Puig took this team out of the National League cellar and helped lead it to 92 wins — the least of all playoff teams, but won the division by a league-best 11 games. However, this team needs Adrian Gonzalez in order to succeed in the 2013 playoffs. The veteran first baseman has a .293 average with 22 home runs and 100 RBI — he leads the offense in nearly every category.
It’s a common theme in these playoffs — the top pitching teams make the postseason. Every team that’s left in the playoffs has a top-1o pitching staff. The advantage in this series, pitching-wise, goes to the Dodgers. I know the Braves have the best ERA in baseball, but the Dodgers are a close second. The main difference is the fact that Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball and could account for two wins in this series.
Game 1: Dodgers at Braves, 8:30 p.m. EST, Thursday, Oct. 3, TBS
Game 2: Dodgers at Braves, 6 p.m. EST, Friday, Oct. 4, TBS
Game 3: Braves at Dodgers, TBD, Sunday, Oct. 6, TBS
Game 4*: Braves at Dodgers, TBD, Monday, Oct. 7, TBS or MLB Network
Game 5*: Dodgers at Braves, TBD, Wednesday, Oct. 9, TBS
PREDICTION: Dodgers beat Braves in five games, 3-2