Dodgers 2019 potential playoff opponent breakdown: Atlanta Braves
Up and down the roster
Last season, the Dodgers beat down the Braves in a 3–1 NLDS victory. That was against a Braves starting rotation and bullpen that lacked serious firepower. The starting rotation was led by Mike Foltynewicz, who this season was sent down to Triple-A to regain some of his 2018 success.
Beyond Folty, the Braves rotation was not very deep and included several veteran castoffs. Anibal Sanchez, Kevin Gausman, Julio Teheran and rookies Max Fried and Toukie Toussaint pitched often down the stretch and in the playoffs as well with limited success.
But this season, the Braves have a much more experienced and powerful rotation. From last season, both Teheran and Fried have taken many steps forward this season in terms of innings and overall numbers. Teheran’s 2019 rebound has been incredible for Atlanta, as his 138 innings of a 3.71 ERA have made him the 3rd most valuable starter on the team at this point in the season.
For Fried, with 23 starts and 126.1 innings pitched with an ERA just under 4.00, he can be a solid strikeout lefty in the playoffs to potentially open games against Bellinger, Seager, and Verdugo at the top of the order.
But beyond these two starters, the two real playoff arms the Dodgers would have to do battle with are current and former All-Stars and a former Cy Young award winner: Mike Soroka and Dallas Keuchel.
Let’s start with Soroka, a 2019 Rookie of the Year hopeful, who is the de facto ace of the Braves. Holder of a 2.32 ERA through 21 starts and 128 innings, Soroka has been one of the best pitchers in the National League and seems more dominant even than Foltynewicz last season.
And of course, Dodger fans remember Dallas Keuchel. Not that Keuchel dominated the Dodgers back in his 2017 World Series starts with the Astros (he threw 10.1 innings in 2 starts while allowing 11 hits and a 5.23 ERA), but just that he has plenty of career playoff experience in his back pocket. Keuchel has a 3.31 ERA over 9 starts in the playoffs over the course of his career.
Between Keuchel, Soroka, and a revamped Teheran, the rotation is unequivocally better than it was just last season. And so is the bullpen and the offense, two of the best features for the Braves to use to compete with the Dodgers.