Dodgers NLCS: Head to Head Pitching Breakdown with the Atlanta Braves

The Dodgers will take on the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS starting on Monday. Both teams were the top two seeds in the National League playoffs, and each has advanced through the first two rounds without losing a game so far.

With the shortened 60-game season this year, the teams did not face one another, so this will be the first meeting between the two since last season. The Dodgers will be looking to appear in their third World Series in four years, while Atlanta will be trying to get to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1999.

Continuing this positional breakdown mini-series, below, we break down the pitching staff for each team, and see how they match-up with one another. Part 1 can be found here.

Starting Rotation

The Braves had one of the worst rotations in the game during the regular season, posting the highest ERA in the league at 5.51. After Mike Soroka went down with an injury earlier this year, Max Fried led the way for Atlanta, and he was great all season. But after Fried, their starters struggled.

The postseason has been a different story, however, as Atlanta has got two great starts by Ian Anderson, who came on late in the year and pitched very well. Fried and Anderson could be a potent 1-2 punch, but after those two, the Braves lack the same depth the Dodgers have.

During the regular season, the Dodgers had one of the top rotations in baseball. Their starters were first in the NL in ERA and WHIP, and second in BAA and K/BB. They have plenty of arms lined up behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. Dave Roberts can go to Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and Julio Urias in some order for games 3-5.

Advantage: Dodgers


Both teams had very good relief pitching in the regular season. The Braves’ unit was second in the NL in ERA and FIP, right behind the Dodgers in both categories. They can go to several options late in the game, and they’ve been lights out so far in the playoffs. With that said, I’m not sure I’d be so quick to say Mark Melancon is a sure thing to close out games given his track record.

The Dodgers bullpen ranked in the top of baseball in practically every major category this year, but those numbers are not the story right now. Instead, it’s the struggles of their long-time closer, Kenley Jansen. After a decline last season, Jansen has looked very shaky this postseason, and it would be surprising to see Dave Roberts stick with him at this point.

But who takes that role now?

Will it be a closer by committee approach based on matchups? That’s the question the Dodgers will be facing. However, even with the closer situation, you can’t overlook the Dodgers bullpen as a whole. There’s a reason they were tops in the league this year, and the fact that they might be able to employ some of their normal starters (May, Gonsolin, Urias) in relief roles, it makes that group even better.

Slight Advantage: Dodgers


Both teams are very good, with stars up and down their roster. The Dodgers were labeled the best team in the game before the season started, and they’ve lived up to those expectations and then some. But the Braves are not too far behind them overall, and they should give the Dodgers a run for their money. And, as we all know, playoff baseball can be volatile.

Advantage: Dodgers

Drop your series predictions in the comments below!

And check out part 1 of this mini-series where we breakdown each club position by position.

Part 1: Position by Position Breakdown with the Atlanta Braves

Brian Robitaille

Originally from Southern California, and currently stationed in Northern Virginia, Brian is a devoted Dodgers fan, and has been since he was a kid. He's an Active Duty member of the U.S Air Force, and has been serving for the last 16 years. While he loves all things sports related, and supports all his teams (Lakers, Steelers, L.A Kings, & USC) his true passion is the Dodgers, and loves writing about the boys in blue.


  1. What a homer analysis. There is no basis on which to doubt Melancon’s abilities as a closer compared to Jansen’s struggles this year. Beyond that, you have completely ignored the depth and performance of the Braves bullpen in both the regular season as well as playoffs. Bullpen advantage is clearly with the Braves.

    1. It’s nothing to do with “homer analysis.” It’s stating facts. I pointed out Melancon’s CAREER struggles, which have been well documented. Never did I say his abilities this year were worst than Jansen. Also, you really bringing up the depth of Atlanta’s bullpen but ignoring the Dodgers? Maybe you ignored it because I didn’t post the stats themselves and just mentioned that the Dodgers had the best bullpen in the league, but that’s fairly easy to look up yourself if you don’t believe me. As I mentioned, their bullpen led the league in almost every major category. If it wasn’t for Jansen’s struggles, it wouldn’t even be a close comparison at all, the Dodgers would have a clear advantage. But while I acknowledge Jansen’s issues, you can’t totally disregard the rest of the bullpen, who are the primarily responsible for those great relief numbers.

  2. Brian I agree with your analysis. The one big thing you do not talk about is the format which is 7 games in 7 days! The Dodgers depth should be a large determining factor.
    I am very impressed with May, Urias.& Gonsolin the young arms will show their worth in this series.
    A Bueler/May game then Kershaw , Urias and Gonsolin should see us ahead in the series.
    I predict some very low scoring close games. The Dodgers willingness to steal and play small ball in the cavernous Globe Life field will also make a difference.

    1. Thanks. And you’re right about the 7 game format with no days off. I actually did mention it in the DodgersNation roundtable piece we did, but didn’t in this breakdown with Atlanta. But yes, the fact that the Dodgers could use their depth even more, is a big benefit.

  3. I have a feeling mlb has an Astros script and I’m not just talking about a pennant but a championship

  4. SO Obviously written by a Dodgers fan. Understand it’s dodger nation site but you lack knowledge and are too one sided

    1. I used stats to back up why I said what I said. You can ignore those if you want, but I’d be curious to how you’d justify ranking the Braves pitching above the Dodgers. But you’re a Braves fan, so maybe the bias is on your part?


  6. I used stats to back up why I said what I said. You can ignore the those if you want, but I’d be curious to how you’d justify ranking the Braves pitching above the Dodgers. But you’re a Braves fan, so maybe the bias is on your part?

  7. Braves in 6. Braves 4 games, Dodgers 2 games.
    My heart is with the Dodgers but I just do not see them pulling this one out.
    The Dodgers need better pitching especially in the 6th inning and later.

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