Perhaps, as a young child, you were read the story of David and Goliath. A small, unarmoured boy wielding something that can only be considered a weapon in the most generous terms taking down a legendary behemoth armed to the hilt. That is something like this series, in which the Dodgers visit the Ted armed with a payroll in excess of $272 million and five All-Stars. The Braves combat this monstrosity with the league’s seventh worst offense by wRC+, sitting a paltry 11% below league average. It is not fun to watch, unless you are a team beat writer who is averse to things like winning and scoring runs. While the Braves miss Los Angeles’ two All-Star pitchers in Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, they barely have a puncher’s chance against the mighty left coast juggernaut.
The Dodgers own MLB’s second best offense, trailing only the Blue Jays, and their 115 dingers and .175 ISO pace the senior circuit. They’re led by a troika of All-Star’s in Adrian Gonzalez (152 wRC+), switch-hitting catcher Yasmani Grandal (158), and rookie very good, very fun outfielder Joc Pederson (139). They’re not just loaded up top either, as they’re supplemented by a resurgent Andre Ethier, Justin Turner, Howie Kendrick, and, of course, Yasiel Puig. The only reliable places the Braves staff will be able to go for outs are the pitchers and shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Facing this lineup will be the rookie Wisler, what is left of Julio Teheran, and Alex Wood. The Braves could get shelled. The Braves should get shelled. This will be neither cool nor good.
From the pitching side, missing Kershaw and Greinke doesn’t make things any easier. Game three starter Mike Bolsinger has had a solid year, putting up a 2.81 FIP in 14 starts, and he’s been particularly effective at keeping the ball in the yard, giving up a mere three dongers all year. Game two starter Brett Anderson has always been a favorite of mine, and this year he’s been able to stay healthy. He doesn’t strikeout many, but he’s better than average at limiting free passes, and with two-thirds of his balls in play being of the ground-ball variety, he’s induced the 13th-most double plays in the league this year, resulting in a steady 3.55 FIP. Which brings us to the game one starter, who is an old friend. Brandon Beachy had a rough first start back from injury and gets his second start of the season against his former team. It’s too early to tell if injuries have sapped him of the talent he had in Atlanta, but we all remember how good he was in 2011/2012, when he put up FIP’s of 3.19 and 3.49 in 220+ innings. Anchored by Kenley Jansen and a host of live arms, the Dodgers have been downright lethal in the ‘pen, with a 26.8(!) K% leading to a 3.15 FIP.
The Braves light hitting collection of misfit parts–never-weres, has-beens, and young kids alike–will face quite the test in battling three quality starters and a bullpen of death. With Jace Peterson’s recent slump, the heavy lifting will fall on Markakis, Maybin, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe. The Braves are going to have to string hits together in bunches to score in this series, but working in their favor is the fact that of the starters, only Mike Bolsinger possesses strikeout stuff, and the Dodgers defense is decidedly average, with a slightly positive (4.0) UZR/150 as a team, but -5 DRS on the year. If the Barves can get a little BABiP luck, or Brandon Beachy falters, Atlanta may be able to steal a game in this series. But alas, the Dodgers are quite good, and the Braves are quite bad, and no matter how the story of David and Goliath ended, the Braves sling may not pack the punch necessary to overcome the Los Angeles machine.