Dodgers need bats to heat up in NLCS

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Here is some MLB playoff news — Clayton Kershaw was a late scratch on Tuesday for the Dodgers, with back spasms.

What does this mean to the team, which is down 1-0 in the NLCS? Because of this, the LA bats need to come alive. The team is deep, but the superstars haven’t been so super. Mookie Betts was brought in specifically to get the team over the top in the postseason. Betts, Cody Bellinger,  Justin Turner and Corey Seager went a combined 2-for-16 in Game 1. The rest of the lineup went 2-for-15. But the whole point of having playmakers is to have them come up big in when you need them to.

This is a team with enormous talent and pride. I wouldn’t count them out just yet.

But wow, the Braves’ pitching has risen to the occasion here in the playoffs. Atlanta had a mediocre staff during the regular season. Their 4.41 ERA ranked 15th in the Majors. And yet, here they are, having given up six runs in six games against three playoff teams. The starters have been outstanding while, the bullpen has been off-the-charts.

No one wants to admit it, but I give the Astros a ton of credit. They had to endure quite a bit this year. Some was certainly brought on by themselves. But Houston has battled back from one setback after another in 2020. That can keep them motivated, particularly in a postseason environment.

However,  you can’t run on vengeance for only so long. Through the first two games of the ALCS, the Astros are starting to show cracks.

What can we say about the Rays? They dispatched my beloved Yankees and are a true force. Not just in the AL but in all of the Majors.

We have a lot of baseball left. The rest of the LCS and the World Series are destined to be great. 

Remembering Joe

On a sad note, baseball as well as the rest of the world, has lost one of the greats. Joe Morgan passed away on Sunday at the age of 77. Morgan had two acclaimed careers. The first as a ballplayer where he was a 10-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman for five teams, most of them with the Reds and Astros, over 22 seasons from 1963-84.

His second career came in the broadcast booth as the lead baseball analyst on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecasts from 1989-2010. After leaving ESPN, he returned to the Reds in 2010 as a senior advisor to baseball operations while also taking on a role in community relations.

Considered the best second baseman ever and one of the brightest baseball minds in the history of the sport, Morgan will be missed by all who watched him play or heard him call a game. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Here are this week’s Best Bets (all records, stats, and trends are as of Tuesday and may change as can starting pitchers):

Wednesday

Dodgers vs. Braves: With Atlanta taking Game 1, 5-1, regardless of what happens in Game 2, I have to look at and put stock in Game 3’s starting pitchers. Kyle Wright and Dustin May are probable’s for Wednesday.

May has been overall a bit more consistent as “Big Red” has made considerably more starts and has not, in any of his 2020 appearances, allowed more than two earned runs. But, the Braves have won Wright’s last four starts, as he went 3-0 with a no decision.

The two top-scoring offenses in the Majors are facing each other here. With the Los Angeles lineup being held to just one run in the series opener, I feel that their powerful bats have to break out sometime. So, why not here against the less experienced and less consistent Wright?

The Dodgers are 5-1 the last six playoff games. Although, I like this pitching matchup, even if one or both of these pitchers don’t go, I still must side with LA’s bats to come alive here. DODGERS

Rays vs. Astros: No matter which team wins Tuesday’s Game 3 matchup, this Game 4 is still a do-or-die for Houston. With Zack Greinke and Tyler Glasnow the probable starters here, we have one of the most seasoned and experienced playoff pitchers against one of the least. However, neither possesses stellar playoff numbers.

Greinke, the former Cy Young Award winner, has had another tumultuous season. The Astros, however, after losing four consecutive starts by the right-hander, have now won his last two starts, but both ND’s.

The Rays have won an astounding 11 straight games that Glasnow has appeared. A streak going back until the beginning of August.

The Rays are 4-1 the last five meetings with the Astros, 5-1 the last six playoff games, and 4-1 the last five vs. the AL West. There are exceptions to every rule. I am a firm believer in postseason experience. But, Greinke is shaky. So, I must side with the hotter Glasnow here. RAYS

Thursday

Dodgers vs. Braves: Sports betting is about situations and matchups. You may love one team today and hate them tomorrow. Well, this is a perfect example. It looks like Walker Buehler and Max Fried will be on the mound here in Game 4 after facing each other in Game 1.

I am not looking to take away anything from Buehler and the Dodgers. But  I am going with Fried and the hungry Braves and the Game 1 result to repeat itself. Fried showed no fear facing LA, going six strong innings, yielding just four hits, and striking out nine batters. He has the confidence of that series-opening victory carrying him over in to this game. BRAVES

Last week: 1-1

Season: 15-16

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