Sunday, October 6, 2013

NLDS Game 2 Recap and Game 3 Preview

The atmosphere for the must-win game at the Ted on Friday night was electric. From the opening of the game when the Dodgers scored first, you could sense a small amount of despair start to set in. However, with the RISP hit by Simmons to tie the game in the 2nd, everyone bounced back quickly, and the chop was in full effect. By the time the Braves took the lead in the 4th, you could sense the tide turning, and by the 7th when the lead extended to 4-1, the place was in full on euphoria. However, Carpenter gave up the two run shot to the Dodgers to make it 4-3 in the 8th, and the fans were on pins and needles. Only one run? Why can't we make this easy?!?! But Kimbrel came in late in the 8th to put out the fire, and although he walked some guys in the 9th, the Braves got their must-win in the bag.

The game wasn't a seesaw affair on the scoreboard, but that doesn't mean it was easy on anyone's nerves as the Braves played with razor thin margins for the 9 inning run. The key for the Braves in this game was going 3-9 with RISP, with hits from Simmons, CJ, and a huge 2 out hit by Heyward after the Dodgers foolishly walked Reed to get to him. Why teams keep doing that, I don't know. We saw Davy Johnson walk to get to Freddie several times in the regular season while playing the percentages. You know what? Sometimes you don't need the percentages when you know it's Heyward and the game is on the line. Besides maybe Freddie there's nobody else I want in that slot.

With only 6 hits, it's frankly amazing the Braves scored 4 runs, but they converted the chances they missed in the first game. That's going to be the difference in all the playoff matchups, especially with the Braves headed to face Ryu in Game 3 on the road. He'll be opposed by Teheran, making his first playoff appearance. Both guys pitched in the regular season with ERAs in the low 3's, and they both have the same regular season record at 14-8. The difference is that the Braves have had about 44 ABs against Ryu, but the Dodgers have never seen Teheran. As you know, that's typically a big advantage to the pitcher in any singular game.

One thing to note is that both Freddie and Simmons have taken advantage of Ryu in their appearances, but the rest of the lineup has really struggled. As a result, in two games Ryu has 2 no-decisions against the Braves with a robust 2.13 ERA. The rest of the lineup will really have to step up since I don't think the Dodgers will allow Freddie or Simmons to best them after what happened in Game 2. Teheran just needs to continue doing what he was doing in September, which was winning ballgames by any means necessary. It wasn't always pretty, but Teheran was able to wriggle off the hook most times without giving up too much damage. One thing he has to watch out for is the big inning. Those will sink you in the playoffs. It's all about managing baserunners now, and he has to stay mentally focused if he gives up walks or singles so they don't stretch into doubles and first to third situations.

The CPA has been wrong twice. Once we were sad about, the last one we were happy about. I think what we're learning is that a lot of what mattered in the regular season goes out the window in the playoffs. Still, let's see what it thinks.

CPA Prediction NLDS Game 3: Dodgers 3 - Braves 1

The Braves haven't fared well on the road this season, as we well know. Most of what the CPA is using in this case is Teheran's road ERA, since he has no stats against the Dodgers in his career. In terms of favorable matchups, simply because this is a road the metric favors the Dodgers. What the Braves need to do is take the same approach they did against Greinke and make the most of their chances. Maybe mix in a homer. We haven't seen one of those on our side yet.

GO BRAVES!

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