Friday, October 4, 2013

NLDS Game 1 Recap and Game 2 Preview

Well, that was awful. Nobody will be impressed with a game where the Braves make several mental mistakes and only get 5 hits. Medlen was a total disaster on the mound with 9 hits and 5 runs in 4 innings, and even though the bullpen held on admirably for 5 more innings the game was already over. What's the one thing I kept hammering all year long? RISP. And what did the Braves do in that game? 1-8 with RISP. That's not going to cut it, especially when the Dodgers went 3-10 with RISP. They got the magic number, we didn't, and that's a loss 6-1. Luckily, it's not a one game series.

I thought the strikeouts weren't going to be an issue, but I was wrong. They were a huge issue. In fact, the Braves struck out 15 times, which is the most in well over a month. Add in the fact that not a single Brave had an extra base hit, and you can see what happened at the plate was just as bad as what happened on the mound. Nothing went right, and the result was inevitable.

The good news is we don't have long to dwell on it. There's another game tonight and another chance to pull even in this series before it heads back to LA. Make no mistake, if we lose this game the series is effectively done. The Braves aren't the kind of team who can rally from an 0-2 deficit to win 3 straight with 2 on the road. So they are going to have to dig deep to get themselves out of the funk they were in on the field yesterday.

The second game features a matchup between Mike Minor and Zach Greinke. Minor has been sliding a bit on his numbers since the beginning of September, and the Braves haven't won a single one of his starts in over a month. His ERA is 3.94 in September, obviously higher than his overall ERA at 3.21 on the season. However, the home ERA has surprisingly been worse than his road ERA with 3.62 and a 6-5 record. On paper, Minor doesn't look like the guy you want out there right now. But we just lost a game with the hottest hand we had on the team on paper. Sometimes, it simply doesn't matter what you've done in the past month. Sometimes, it's all about how one guy pitches in one game. That's what we're hoping for with Minor, because he has those games in him. He pitched several of them earlier in the year.

Greinke has also been worse in the final month than he was during the season. That's all relative though, since he didn't lose a game in August, and the Dodgers have lost two of his starts in September. For the most part, Greinke is still ridiculously tough with his final month 1.75 ERA, and he's averaging a K per inning. The last time Greinke gave up more than two runs was in July against the Reds. I want to make something very clear. Either Minor comes out dealing, or this won't be much of a game. The Braves are very unlikely to touch up Greinke for a big rally, and they will need to have clutch situational hitting when the chances arise. If the Dodgers jump out to a lead again? It's big trouble in the Ted.

The good news is that Justin, BMac, Elliot, and Heyward all have much better historical batting numbers off Greinke than they do off Kershaw. Also, Greinke hasn't faced a true playoff team since Cincinnati on September 7th, and he lost. Minor faced off against St. Louis in late August and won. So, it's not all doom and gloom statistically. The Braves just have to put lumber on the ball and make the Dodgers play the field. Another double digit strikeout day won't work.

So the CPA was wrong last night, and it wasn't close. What about tonight? Can the Braves salvage a game at home?

CPA Prediction NLDS Game 2: Dodgers 5 - Braves 2

The CPA doesn't favor the Braves at all with this matchup. I can't really blame it, the numbers don't look good. However, it was wrong last night, and it could be wrong again tonight. I hope it is, because the Braves can turn this thing around easily with a lead and some homers. We'll need it to keep this series going.


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