The Los Angeles Dodgers will take their second crack at closing out their ALDS series against the Atlanta Braves with a Monday matinee. The Braves kept the series going with a 6-5 win on Sunday night. However, the Dodgers are -150 favorites to close out the series on Monday.
Everything seemed to be going the Dodgers’ way during the first two games of the series. They beat the Braves in back-to-back shutouts behind excellent pitching performances from Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw. Los Angeles won those two games by a combined score of 9-0, showcasing dominance over the Braves.
However, Atlanta fought back in Game 3. A grand slam by Ronald Acuna Jr. put the Braves up 5-0. But the Dodgers chipped away and managed to tie the game. It was a home run from veteran Freddie Freeman that put the Braves ahead 6-5, a lead they managed to hold. Of course, the Braves are still facing elimination and need a win Monday to push the series back to Los Angeles.
In Game 4, the Braves will hand the ball to Mike Foltynewicz, who is technically pitching on short rest after starting Game 1 on Thursday. Of course, Foltynewicz only lasted two innings in that game, giving up a 1st inning home run to Joc Pederson and a 2nd inning home run to Max Muncy.
That being said, Foltynewicz was still the ace of Atlanta’s staff during the regular season. In 31 starts, he was 13-10 with a 2.85 ERA. Also, prior to Thursday’s start, Foltynewicz had good career numbers against most of the Los Angeles lineup, albeit in limited at-bats. The Braves can only hope that after his struggles in Game 1, Foltynewicz will be able to settle down and pitch better. If he struggles again, Julio Teheran could be an option in long relief after the Braves needed 6.1 innings from their bullpen on Sunday.
King of the Hill
Rich Hill will get the start for the Dodgers in Game 4. That fact that Hill is the team’s no. 4 starter is a testament to their incredible rotation depth. Of course, the lefty had a somewhat down season by his standards, going 11-5 with a 3.66 ERA after once again missing time due to blister problems.
However, Hill was much better during the second half of the season. More importantly, he has eight career postseason starts, including four last year with the Dodgers. He only lasted 17.2 innings in those four starts, but he posted a 2.55 ERA in those starts.
Of course, this game is all about whether or not Atlanta’s bats can wake up after finally scoring six runs on Sunday. The Braves have 13 total hits over three games in this series, so the team has struggled as a whole. The entire Braves roster has also struggled in limited action against Hill in their career, so Atlanta faces a great challenge on Monday.
Finish the Job
The Braves should be pleased that they avoided the sweep, but this is still the end of the line. Hill should be able to prevent them from carrying any momentum from Game 3 to Game 4. The Los Angeles bats will do the rest. Bet on the Dodgers -150 to win Game 4 and advance to the NLCS.