Dodgers vs. Braves NLCS Game 1 Preview and Best Bet

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Max Fried #54 of the Atlanta Braves pitches during a game against the Padres on September 24, 2021. Denis Poroy/Getty Images/AFP

After a big NLDS victory in Game 5 for the Dodgers, will they have the energy for Game 1, on the road, in Atlanta against the Braves? Let’s try to read into what the MLB odds are telling us for this game!

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves

Saturday, October 16, 2021 – 08:08 PM EDT at Truist Park

Probable Pitchers

Dodgers: Max Scherzer (15-4, 2.46 ERA)

Braves: Max Fried (14-7, 3.04 ERA)

The Atlanta Braves, despite losing nearly 20 more games than the Dodgers this season, have home-field advantage. Despite what you think about these playoff rules, you can agree with me that this is kind of unfair to the Dodgers.

Anyway, with home-field advantage, the Braves look tough to beat after all. Max Fried will take the hill for the Braves and has thrown 13 quality starts in his last 14 outings this season. Against the Brewers in the NLDS, Fried went six innings and allowed three hits and no runs, helping the Braves win his start, 3-0. The left-hander had nine strikeouts and just seems like it’s in a perfect rhythm right now.

In the last 30 days, Fried has had an xFIP of 2.30 with 25.3 percent strikeouts and no walks. He’s also inducing over 65 percent of ground balls and giving up just 14 percent of line drives.

The Dodgers lineup has a .212 ISO and wOBA of .354 while striking out just 11.2 percent of the time and walking 10.3 percent of the time in the last 30 days against lefties. However, in the middle of the lineup, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, and Albert Pujols have all struggled to hit lefties for power recently.

Rally Killers

At the end of the day, against Fried, those guys could be huge rally killers. For the Dodgers, Max Scherzer will likely get the call for Game 1. It hasn’t been confirmed but it’s very likely. Or the Dodgers can throw us another curveball, but I’m doubting that.

Scherzer threw 13 pitches against the Giants in Game 5 of the NLDS to clinch a series win and a chance to play for the pennant in the NL. In his previous start, he went seven innings, allowing three hits and one run with 10 strikeouts. That was the “Mad Max” we had been waiting to see.

He’s got an xFIP of 3.71 in the last 30 days with 26.6 percent strikeouts and 5.6 percent walks. However, he’s inducing under 30 percent ground balls and giving up 22.2 percent line drives in the last 30 days. The Braves, as a lineup, have hit just 36 percent ground balls and 25.5 percent line drives against righties in the last 30 days.

The Pick

If anything, I like the Braves on the moneyline, as underdogs, with Fried on the mound. I think there’s serious value on Fried, at home, as an underdog. Scherzer has been hot and cold all year but outside of Joc Pederson of the Braves, there’s nothing consistent about this Braves offense.

We’re going to see another low-scoring affair in a Braves game. The hitting is average and the pitching is above average. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have the better lineup, but against Fried, the offense will struggle a bit, as they’ve done against lefties plenty of times this season. Let’s play it safe and take the under at 8.5 for our MLB pick. The first five under is also in play if you’d like to go that route.

MLB Pick: Under 8.5 (-115) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Under 8.5 (-115)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.