The Dodgers have a date with the Braves in the NLCS and here’s what they’ll need to do to advance.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have manhandled the competition up until this point. They’ve swept through the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres en route to five straight wins and will now enter the NLCS well-rested and ready to go against the Atlanta Braves.
But the Braves present a much bigger challenge than the previous two teams. The Brewers were under .500 and didn’t even deserve a playoff spot. The Pads used 25 pitchers in their NLDS series against the Dodgers as they dealt with injuries to their top two starters.
Now, the top two offenses in Major League Baseball will clash and LA will go up against the best pitching they’ve seen yet. Throw in the fact that Atlanta is looking to avenge years of playoff futility and won’t have to worry about not having home-field advantage now that we’re in the MLB bubble, and the Dodgers have their hands full.
Here’s who LA will really need to stop if they want to get back to the World Series.
3. Darren O’Day
The Dodgers are great at getting to the bullpen, and Darren O’Day will be a key reliever to look out for.
The Braves’ bullpen has been their undoing before, but it’s been pretty darn good in 2020. Guys like AJ Minter, Chris Martin, Shane Greene and Mark Melancon have been nails, but perhaps the key for LA will be ensuring they can hit Darren O’Day, who’s been a magician. The submarine right-hander was 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 22 strikeouts in 16.1 regular-season innings. Though he’s allowed two hits and three walks in 1.2 postseason innings, he hasn’t given up a run.
O’Day is obviously a guy who the Braves use against both righties and lefties because of his funky delivery, but LA can’t have him continue pitching with this much success. The Dodgers are extremely good at getting to the opposing team’s bullpen, and it starts with O’Day, who will undoubtedly be brought into the game during tight situations.
He’s held opposing offenses to a .154 batting average with two outs and runners in scoring position this year. When he’s brought in to keep the offense at bay, the Dodgers need to strike and throw the Braves’ bullpen plan off.