MLB Playoffs: The Dodgers in trouble, the MVP that doesn’t hit and what the rest of the SCLN holds


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MLB Playoffs: The Dodgers in trouble, the MVP that doesn't hit and what the rest of the SCLN holds

ATLANTA – The first two games of the National League Championship Series have been fascinating. They have been close and full of tension. They have been dramatic. And yes, they have been a bit weird.

The curiosity begins with the most important fact that occurred this weekend: the Atlanta Braves, who own 88 victories in the regular season, have a 2-0 advantage over the Los Angeles Dodgers, defending champions of the Old Circuit that added 106 victories in the recent season. completed. However, the most important thing is how we got here. Like they did last year, the lighthearted Braves have sunk the corporate Dodgers in a hole.

Will this year’s series end the same way, with a Dodgers comeback to break the hearts of the Braves? Perhaps, breaking down some of the rarities and curiosities of this series will give us an idea of ​​what is to come.

The Dodgers bullpen script

To some extent, postseason games are largely bullpen chess at this point in the war of strategy. The Dodgers announced they would unleash their reliever corps for Game 1 on Saturday, and boy did they, adding eight relievers to take the hill. Neither got more than five outs.

The Dodgers lost Game 1; however, his maneuver worked. The Braves only scored three runs, struck out 14 times, had six hits and were unable to negotiate walks. However, those three lines were enough to seal the dramatic 3-2 victory of the Braves, product of the hit connected by Austin Riley in the ninth inning, facing the right-hander Blake Treinen.

It was worth a try, right?

The Dodgers had to keep a good feeling about their chances of tying the series, as they counted on future Hall of Famer Max Scherzer for Game 2. Surely, the starter would give the Dodgers bullpen at least a break after the reliever corps went through the revolving door Saturday.

However, there was a problem: Scherzer, who pitched after two days off after acting as closer in Thursday’s decisive game against the San Francisco Giants, was not the usual Scherzer.

“I’d just say his arm was dead,” Scherzer said. “When I was warming up, I could tell that I was still fatigued.”

Scherzer held out for 4 1/3 innings, conceding Joc Pederson’s huge two-run RBI homer in the fourth inning; however, there were still many outs to serve in a tied game. So Dodgers manager Dave Roberts deployed six additional relievers to finish Game 2. And one of them was 20-game regular-season left-hander Julio Urias who worked in the top of the eighth and allowed the annotations of the tie.

Two days. Thirteen pitcher changes. Handicap 2-0 in the series. Using the Game 4 starter for a full inning when, at the time, there were other options in the bullpen.

Is panic in Hollywood?

Nah.

First, Roberts emphasized that the appearance of Urias should not affect his ability to deliver the opening scheduled for Game 4, largely because Urias generally falls short of high pitch counts. And the Braves’ pitching plan for that game is a matter of chance, although it will probably have to be a bullpen game or an opener.

Also, the Dodgers still plan to use Cy Young Award nominee Walker Buehler to square off with postseason veteran Charlie Morton for Game 3. An idea that hardly induces panic.

“Walker is ready,” said Roberts. “You have a couple of extra days. Then we will trust him for Game 3, without a doubt. “

When it comes to Game 5, that could be another encounter for the Dodgers bullpen. However, remember the following: the bet on Saturday actually worked. And for Game 6, they can turn to a Scherzer with full rest. And Buehler would be poised to pitch in a tentative Game 7.

Anyway, we cannot forget the most relevant event of the weekend:

“This is how the series has developed, and I think both teams are in the same situation,” said Roberts. “Apart from the most important factor: they have a two game to zero advantage.”

Off at the key moment

Additionally, despite all the attention focused on the Dodgers’ pitching plan for the first two games, the main reason they didn’t win both games is likely to be the following:

From 18-2.

That’s the offensive mark for the Dodgers with running backs in scoring position so far in the NL Championship Series. Two hits, four walks and one hit in 24 rushing chances. And they have scored three lines in those situations. The Braves only have four touchdowns; however, they have had just eight similar opportunities in which they have produced big, with hits that have sealed victories in the ninth inning in two games in a row.

“It is a focus issue and I think that, on certain occasions in scoring position, we are expanding too much. [la zona de strike]”Said Roberts.

During the regular season, the Dodgers ranked ninth in the majors, thanks to their .262 offensive average with men in scoring position; so this is not an old-fashioned problem. However, some concern arises when looking at the situation from the player’s point of view.

Both hits in scoring position against Atlanta came off Chris Taylor’s bat: one of them was a rare double in Game 2, with a 76 mph exit velocity, and was misread in center field by Guillermo Heredia. No other Dodgers player has hit hits in scoring situations, batting 15-0 with eight fans.

Now, these situations tend to be magnified in the context of the postseason; and the small sampling of a short series implies that, although the 18-2 line has power within the narrative, the repercussions it has within the forecast are practically nil. This is what has happened so far, although it does not necessarily mean that it will continue to happen.

With that said, consider this fact: The Braves pitching staff have become tremendous experts when it comes to policing base traffic. After Game 2, Atlanta has allowed four hits in 41 offensive at-bats with running backs in scoring position so far in the playoffs. That translates to a .098 batting average for the opposition.

Extreme stats like .098 and 18-2 often return to normal rather than hold. However, in the case of a Dodgers who are two games behind, they better get back to normal as soon as possible.

“Omaha!”

The Braves have relied heavily on their trio of high-caliber main relievers: left-hander Tyler Matzek, right-hander Luke Jackson and left-handed closer Will Smith. In fact, Matzek has pitched in each and every playoff game for his team. That will have to take its toll sooner or later, right?

“It’s amazing,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “I mean, he tends to get mad when I don’t make him pitch. I mean, I could pitch all the time. And he always assures me that he is ready. He said ‘I can afford to pitch’. And I answer him: ‘very well, well, then, I’ll put you to pitch’ “.

There is no other quote that can better summarize the difference between the Braves and the Dodgers in this series.

Right-hander Ian Anderson, Atlanta’s starter in Game 2, left the mound after three innings of work because he was simply not in his prime. Snitker claimed after the encounter that a possible scenario in which Anderson exceeded three episodes had never been analyzed.

“Omaha!”

For those who do not know, that is not a reference to the city of the state of Oklahoma, but a shout that became famous thanks to the quarterback Peyton Manning, a member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame, who used it to change the plays on the line of scrimmage. That’s what Snitker did after Anderson’s departure: he played by ear.

Of course, Matzke, Jackson, and Smith pitched. Like a few relievers who haven’t seen a lot of activity during the month of October. Seven Braves relievers combined to allow a single indisputable solo in six innings of work… yet they walked six.

Despite this, Atlanta triumphed. Currently, the Braves have five victories in a row, after having lost in the first game of their divisional round when they visited the Milwaukee Brewers’ park. Some of his victories don’t make much sense. But they are triumphs, anyway.

What will happen to this strange combination of pitchers in Los Angeles? Who knows? Despite this, we have the feeling that while the Dodgers organization’s small army of statistical analysts must be very busy right now trying to come up with scenarios at the molecular level, the Braves are ready to continue playing by ear, no matter what happens next.

Freddie in trouble

And here they have the most unusual aspect of the two Braves triumphs: First baseman Freddie Freeman, face of the franchise, did not contribute anything. Any. Not a single unstoppable.

Freeman went 4-0 in Game 1, striking out on all four trips to the plate. He did the same in Game 2, adding three more fans. Freeman’s seven consecutive strikeouts equal the longest slump of his career. Only six players have struck out seven straight times in a postseason series, and only David Justice has had eight (in 2001).

Mercifully, Freeman flied out in his final at-turn Saturday, sparing him the ignominy of tying Justice’s mark. Once again, the players batting around Freeman (Eddie Rosario, Ozzie Albies, Austin Riley) stole the cameras.

And, you know what? This one in particular should scare the Dodgers to the guts. The Braves have won two games without adding any input from their best player.

Joc-tubre

There is no tangible baseball meaning we can get out of this. However, if they believe in omens, fate and similar imponderables, the Dodgers should also be concerned, seeing that Joc Pederson’s pearl necklace has become a talisman for the entire Atlanta community of baseball fans.

Yes sirs. Already the team stores in Truist Park sell plastic replicas of Pederson’s necklace; with extensive lines of fans eager to purchase them before the start of the games. True: Pederson keeps everyone relaxed, bonding all over the field by wearing shorts and that necklace during batting practice; to later release labyrinthine home runs, one after another, once the matches have started.

But what does this mean? Braves legend Dale Murphy made the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2. First, he removed his “Murphy” jersey, revealing that he was wearing a jacket with Austin Riley’s number underneath. .

And then the grand finale: Murphy pulled out of his pocket a string of (presumably) plastic wearable pearls as he made his protocol toss.

This “Joc-tubre” is taking on a life of its own. It’s crazy. It is wonderful. And, right, it’s a little weird.


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