We picked up yet another major underdog money line winner last night. We have prided ourselves all season long on finding value on underdogs, and the playoffs have been no different. We picked up the +157-win last night when we backed the Atlanta Braves as home dogs against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Most people expected the Dodgers to sweep away the Braves with ease, but I felt that this young Baby Braves team would play much better at home than they did in LA and took a shot on a jumbo payout.
It looked like the Braves were going to blow this one out as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead on a Ronald Acuna Jr. grand slam in the second inning. But the Dodgers battled back and managed to run Braves starter Sean Newcomb from the game after just two and a third innings of work. Atlanta then turned to Kevin Gausman, the guy that was supposed to be starting the game before getting scratched the night before, and he was no better, as the Dodgers touched him up for a couple of runs in just two innings of work, and just like that, the Dodgers had tied the game up at five runs apiece.
The Braves showed a lot of heart when veteran leader Freddie Freeman blasted a home run in the sixth inning to retake the lead, and the Braves bullpen managed to hang on, and Atlanta won the game. It was an emotional win for Atlanta, but they don’t have a lot of time to celebrate as they will host the Dodgers again today for game four.
The Atlanta Braves will look to take this series back to Los Angeles tied up at two games apiece as they host the Dodgers tonight in game three. The Dodgers took both games in L.A. and came up just short of the sweep last night.
Starting for the Braves is Mike Foltynewicz (13-10 2.85 ERA), and for the Dodgers, it is Rich Hill (11-5 3.66 ERA). The Dodgers are -141 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight runs. First pitch is scheduled for 1:30 PM PST from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
What the Braves did last night wasn’t all that hard to predict. Many times, when a team is outmatched like the Braves are in this series, they throw everything into one game, and many times that is enough to put them over the top and pick up an unlikely win. But this is baseball, and that is why we play series, not a single game, to decide our champion. You have to wonder how much the Braves will have left in the gas tank after the roller coaster of emotions they went through last night.
Rich Hill is the been there done that guy for the Dodgers. Hill has played for a bunch of teams over the course of his thirteen-year career, eight to be exact, and he always seems to come up big for his teams when they need him to. That is what happened when Hill went 5-0 in five September starts. The Dodgers couldn’t afford to lose a single game as they were neck and neck with the Colorado Rockies down the stretch and Hill came up big.
In fact, Hill has just one losing decision going back to early July. After a slow start to the season and an injury that cost him nearly a month of action, Hill has come back and has been as good as he ever was down the stretch for the Dodgers. That is why the Dodgers are deciding to use a fourth starter tonight when most teams elect to drop to a three-man rotation for the playoffs. He is that good, and deserves to be here.
Mike Foltynewicz had a career year for the Braves this season. He won a career-high thirteen games and was named to his first All-Star team. I have bet on Foltynewicz so many times this season that I can actually spell his name by heart at this point. Still at just 27-years-old Foltynewicz is finally coming into his own as the ace of this Braves staff.
However, the one team that hasn’t seemed to have gotten the Foltynewicz is elite memo is these Los Angeles Dodgers. Foltynewicz started game one of this series and got absolutely blasted as he allowed four runs, all earned in just two innings of work and the Braves got blown out. In that one, he allowed three hits, two of them home runs, and walked three batters. In his previous start against the Dodgers, he got similar touched up as he allowed four runs in just five innings of work and the Braves got blown out again.
I like this Braves team. I have all season. But the prevailing wisdom coming into the season was that this team was a year or two away from really competing for a World Series title. They shocked everyone by running away with their division title, but I don’t think that changed the fact that they still just don’t quite gave enough to compete with the best teams in the league.
The Dodgers seem to have Foltynewicz’s number, and I don’t see any reason why he will be much better tonight. He has been a much better pitcher at home this season, but I am not sure that is enough to get over the hump tonight against what should be a very motivated Dodgers team. The Dodgers didn’t need to win last night, they need to win tonight.
They saw the Milwaukee Brewers sweep away the Colorado Rockies with ease and now they are at home resting up, the last thing the Dodgers want is to have to use up Clayton Kershaw for a game five in Los Angeles. The Dodgers know they need to win tonight, and I think that is just what will happen. Give me the Los Angeles Dodgers as road favorites tonight in game four at -141!