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October 6, 2013

Playoff Prospectus

NLDS Game Three Preview: Braves at Dodgers

by Mike Gianella

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The Braves had their backs to the wall on Friday night, and held off a late Dodgers threat to take Game Two, 4-3, and even the best-of-five series at one game apiece. Here is a look at PECOTA odds and projected lineups for Game Three of the NLDS.

Braves (Julio Teheran) at Dodgers (Hyun-jin Ryu). 8:07 pm ET
PECOTA odds of winning: Dodgers 54.4%, Braves 45.6%

Projected Starting Lineups

Braves vs. Ryu (L)

Dodgers vs. Teheran (R)

Jason Heyward (L) CF

Carl Crawford (L) LF

Justin Upton (R) RF

Mark Ellis (R) 2B

Freddie Freeman (L) 1B

Hanley Ramirez (R) SS

Evan Gattis (R) LF

Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B

Brian McCann (L) C

Yasiel Puig (R) RF

Chris Johnson (R) 3B

Juan Uribe (R) 3B

Andrelton Simmons (R) SS

Skip Schumaker (L) CF

Elliot Johnson (S) 2B

A.J. Ellis (R) C

Julio Teheran (R) P

Hyun-jin Ryu (R) P

PECOTA continues to favor the Dodgers over the Braves in this series, although as we saw in Game Two, the Braves have the ability to hanging tough in every game, particularly if Clayton Kershaw isn’t starting for L.A. Both managers have kept the same lineups in for both contests, so while my crystal ball isn’t so crystal clear, I’d imagine that there won’t be any changes tonight either.

Julio Teheran fell off the radar for many after a lackluster minor league campaign in 2012, and appeared to be a fifth starter at best entering 2013. Instead, he emerged as a legitimate no. 2 starter this year. He is somewhat prone to the long ball, which is a product of his low ground-ball rate. The Dodgers aren’t a big home run team, finishing 24th in the Majors with 138 home runs, so this might not be as much of an issue as it would be against another opponent.

Teheran’s pre-2013 struggles had come in part due to his inability to master an off speed pitch, particularly a change-up. Instead of continuing down the path of trying to improve the change, the Braves worked with Teheran to develop a slider. The slider isn’t Teheran’s bread and butter, but it has allowed him to work more off of his curve and has given him a more effective three-pitch assortment and—more importantly—allowed Teheran the confidence to throw the curve at any point in the count.

Like Teheran, Ryu is arguably underrated due to the presence of bigger names on his staff. The South Korean import doesn’t have terrific stuff, but falls into the clichéd “knows how to pitch” category. His stuff isn’t dominant, but his command is strong and he has avoided making too many mistakes up in the zone. The result is a low home run percentage despite his non-elite arsenal.

Ryu’s control improved as the season progressed, with a ridiculous 7.0 K:BB ratio from August until the end of the season. More bad news for the Braves is that Ryu was dominant at Chavez Ravine in 2013, enjoying home cooking and posting a 2.32 ERA. The Braves’ poor contact rates combined with Ryu’s reluctance to give up the long ball could make for a long night for Atlanta.

The Braves beat Ryu on May 17 by nickel and diming him to death and working the pitch count up early. Ryu was chased after five innings and 100 pitches and the Braves won the game in the Dodgers bullpen. It’s difficult to anticipate this outcome again, although I’m interested to see what Gattis does against Ryu. Gattis and McCann are the two fly ball hitters in the Braves line-up. If Atlanta is going to do damage with the long ball, these two might be their best bets.

Mike Gianella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Mike's other articles. You can contact Mike by clicking here

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/06)
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Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL... (10/06)
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