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Braves Have Dodgers On Brink of Elimination

The Dodgers are facing elimination, down three games to one in the NL Championship Series. Just like in 2020.

Their foe, the Atlanta Braves, is one win from returning to the World Series for the first time in more than two decades. Just like in 2020.

Los Angeles is faced with the prospect of having to use every available pitcher to find a way to get the hot hand on the mound and save the season. Just like in 2020.

But 2021 is not 2020 (we all can testify to that). Fans are in the stands for these games. The NLCS is being played in sunny L.A. in front of Dodgers fans, instead of a neutral site in Texas. Also, the Braves bring a different attitude and tenor to this repeat matchup with the pennant on the line.

The Dodgers have their handicaps. They lost 2020 NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer due to off-field problems in midseason; the team never could shake the Giants in the NL West, and in fact never could catch the Giants; and they lost veteran future Hall of Fame pitcher Clayton Kershaw to injury prior to the postseason.

When 111 Wins Are Not Enough

Only 17 teams in MLB history have won more games in a regular season than the 2021 L.A. Dodgers. But the Big Blue Wrecking Crew still faces the prospect of seeing their season end without having won the pennant.

The Dodgers came back to win three straight games in 2020 to defeat Atlanta in the NLCS. But it doesn’t feel like that’s an outcome they can pull off this time. The Braves have outplayed the Dodgers in every game, save for the final inning-and-a-half of Game 3 when Cody Bellinger’s miracle pulled victory from the jaws of defeat for L.A.

An injury to Justin Turner in Game 4 symbolizes the Dodger postseason futility. The magic that has helped the team navigate the playoffs and advance to the Fall Classic in three of the last four postseasons is disappearing.

Pitching Matchup: Max Fried vs. L.A. Bullpen

Never have two Max’s faced each other in the postseason, and if the Dodgers tapped their ace Max Scherzer on three days rest for this start, it would be a Get Smart matchup. But after Scherzer revealed that he had “a dead arm” in Game 2, don’t expect to see him throw a pitch Thursday night.

Fried started Game 1 and pitched well, allowing no runs in six strong innings. He’s making his fourth start in the postseason against the Dodgers in the last two years. In each of his prior starts, he went at least six innings, and The Thin Man has never surrendered more than three runs. Without Justin Turner, L.A. is down a powerful right-handed bat to face the southpaw.

DraftKings has Fried at +275 to record the win. That’s a good player prop bet to jump on, as Atlanta looks to finish off this series.

The Dodgers will likely opt for a bullpen game as they did in Game 5 of the 2020 series, when Dustin May started and gave way to several relievers after two innings. Corey Knebel is a good candidate to open the game. Or, Dave Roberts may succumb to the grit of Scherzer and allow his ace to take to the rubber in a surprising last-minute decision.

Scherzer has a 3.67 ERA and his team is 3-1 in his four starts in elimination games. If he gets the ball, even with his fatigue issues, the oddsmakers are likely to shift the line, so keep an eye on that.

NLCS Game 5 Notes

  • Corey Seager has two first-inning homers in this series. He and Cody Bellinger have been the only LH batting threats for L.A. They have two of the Dodgers’ three homers in the NLCS.
  • In Game 4, Eddie Rosario fell one double shy of hitting for the cycle, something that’s happened just once in the postseason. Rosario is batting .588 with 10 hits, a pair of homers, and six RBI in the series. If the NLCS ends in favor of the Braves, he’s the MVP.
  • Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols is 1-for-7 in the NLCS, and he’s looked overmatched. The 41-year old could be suiting up for his final game, should he not get a roster spot next season.

How To Watch Game 5 of the NLCS

Game 5 of the NLCS between the Braves and Dodgers airs on TBS at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available on MLB.TV for those with an account with that streaming service.

Braves Vs. Dodgers NLCS Game 5 Pick

The Dodgers are exhausted from a grueling season where they couldn’t hop ahead of their rivals the Giants. They survived a wild card game (just barely) and eliminated those Giants (just barely).

The Braves have been relentless in this series. They’ve led in every game as late as the eighth inning. With a trip to the World Series in their sights, they will eliminate the defending champs in Game 5.

As of this post, BetRivers and DraftKings have the best Game 5 odds on Atlanta, offering sports bettors +125 for a Braves win. I’ve been waiting for the Dodgers to get their act together in this series, but no more. Braves +125 is my pick.

NLCS Game 5 Player Prop

DraftKings has Rosario at +350 to hit a home run and the Braves win. I think Eddie stays hot, and I will take that action.

NLCS Game 5 Odds

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About the Author
Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Writer and Contributor
Dan Holmes is a writer and contributor for Gaming Today with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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