Before the postseason began, the Atlanta Braves knew that getting to the NLCS would be a huge task, especially with the Los Angeles Dodgers standing in their way. Nonetheless, the Braves’ loss in Game 1 created a sense of urgency in the clubhouse, and even more so amongst the fans. After an excellent win in Game 2, however, it’s a little easier to remain calm and assess the situation the Braves find themselves in.
Everyone knew facing Clayton Kershaw would be a huge task, but with Kris Medlen opposing him, there was reasonable hope that the Braves could pull off a win in Game 1 and really set the tone for the playoffs, but things didn’t go in the home team’s favor. Initially, it was a disturbing loss that made people wonder if Atlanta really had what is takes, but at the end of the day, no one really expected the Braves to win that game. Yes, winning Game 1 against Kershaw would have been absolutely huge, but once all was said and done, the game plan wasn’t altered.
Game 2 gave Braves fans everywhere warm and fuzzy feelings after an outstanding pitching performance by Mike Minor and a clutch defensive effort from the infield. Despite the next two games being in Los Angeles, momentum feels as if it has shifted; at the very least, it’s even. With Julio Teheran getting the start in Game 3, the Braves should be very confident. In my opinion, Teheran is an outstanding pitcher and he gives the Braves a chance to win every single night; I wouldn’t mind seeing Teheran on the mound even against Kershaw
Game 4 will likely be a complete toss-up, but the favor goes to the Dodgers. Atlanta has already stated that Freddy Garcia, a pitcher picked up just a few weeks ago for cash considerations, will start Game 4, and that is not good news for Braves fans. He’s had some good starts thus far, but his career numbers make it very clear what kind of pitcher Garcia is, and he’s not playoff caliber. Personally, I’d like to see Alex Wood out there, or even David Hale. I think Fredi Gonzalez may have a trick up his sleeve on this one; at the very least, I hope that if Garcia does get the start, that he has an extremely short leash and that Wood and Hale will be standing by to take the torch from that point on.
All in all, while the Braves are traveling to Los Angeles, I don’t think the Dodgers have the advantage in these next two games. Any game in which Kershaw pitches gives the Dodgers the advantage, but every other game in this series goes to the Braves on paper. While a loss in LA means a Game 5 against Kershaw, the Braves need to focus on one game at a time; if they can focus and execute the way they’re capable, the Dodgers will be a distant memory and the World Series will be that much closer.