Because the baseball gods feel generous in the 2020 MLB playoffs, this weekend we get a second Game 7 as the Dodgers and Braves play to win or go home for a National League pennant and a trip to the World Series champion AL Tampa Bay Rays.
With so much at stake, we asked senior MLB writers Alden Gonzalez, David Shenfield and Jeff Passan about key issues for the Dodgers, Braves and the game that will take place in Game 7 on Sunday.
Key issues of LA
Who starts for Dodgers?
It has not been reported, but there seem to be three options: Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias and Brusdar Graterol. The latter, of course, will be used as an opener, and this makes sense for several reasons. The Dodgers deployed Graterol as a knife during training until the end of the regular season. In addition, it would be beneficial to ensure that their best sedative ̵1; at least for now – is in contact with the best part of the Braves lineup. Gonsolin, who would be on regular rest after the start of the 88th step in Game 2, is ready to submit most innings. But Julio Urias, who threw his career-high 101 field in Game 3, could provide an inning or two for the bridge. – Gonzalez
Clayton Kershaw performing?
It this is a fascinating question. Kershaw hung out in the bullpen for Game 6, just in case there was an emergency. Most likely, he will also be in the bullpen for Game 7, waiting for a potential challenge. The Dodgers would like to avoid using it for three reasons: First, they can save it to start Game 1 of the World Series; second, he was scratched from a scheduled start earlier this week due to back cramps; and finally, he wasn’t great when he was released from the bullpen for a short break, the most recent example in last year’s NL Division 5 game. But if the game is close, and Dave Roberts needs an inning or two before he can get to his long-lasting terrain, the thought of Kershaw standing in this bullpen can be tempting. Again. – Gonzalez
Can Cody Bellinger find this on a plate?
Bellinger has tried to find consistency with his mechanics during the regular season, has four hits and nine hits in 23 bits in this series and hits .238 / .333 / .476 in the postseason. He hit a few balls hard, but he didn’t have much to show for it. The Dodgers had a few big first innings in this series, especially their 11-run output in Game 3, but they couldn’t handle it. In their 5th game, they scored the first three innings against Max Fried, but then did nothing more, putting a lot of pressure on their bullpen and defense. Both of these areas have passed, but the Dodgers can’t count on it again. They need more consistent production in connection with the crime. They need Bellinger to become a catalyst again. – Gonzalez
Key issues of Atlanta
How long has Braves stayed with Ian Anderson?
The 22-year-old has only nine career starts – including three unsuccessful off-season trips – but is clearly impressive: 1.31 ERA, one home run in 48 innings and an average watt of .154. His change became his great weapon, as those who beat him hit only 0.076, and he is not afraid to throw it to the right.
Still, this is a great moment for a beginner. This is the 19th Game 7 in the LCS or World Series since 2000, and newcomers have only started three times: Walker Buhler in Game 7 NLCS 2018, Daisuke Matsuzaka for the Red Sox in ALCS 2007 (and he had a lot of great gaming experience in Japan ) and John Lakey for the Angels in the 2002 World Series. (And if Tony Gonsolin starts for the Dodgers, he’ll make number 4!)
The Dodgers are known for their very patient approach, and they worked for Anderson for five walks in four innings in his Start 2 game. However, he escaped without any damage, as he allowed only one blow and got out of the jam loaded with bases in the third inning, when Will Smith grounded. However, even if he swims together, do not look for him to delve into the game. Braves manager Brian Snitker still has a strong bullpen, and the way the game is run today is likely no matter who starts.
Of the six games 7 since 2016, including Astros-Rays on Saturday, the longest starter was 6 innings by Zach Grinke in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. Only three more times the starter even passed five innings – Max Scherzer twice combined with Grinke and Charlie Morton, in 2017 ALCS for Astros, and then on Saturday against Astros. So even if Anderson throws more than zero – 15⅔ innings so far in the postseason – don’t be surprised if he leaves after four or five innings.
Snitker said he had no special information about Anderson or his team. “They know what we’re doing. They’re well aware that it’s Game 7, and shoot, we’ll go out there and let it fly. Game 7 is another game of baseball. It’s not the fourth and 1st let me take the first one. It’s a baseball game, and you have to treat it like that. It’s game 7, it’s going to be fun, we like the way we’re made, we like who’s rocking. ” – Shenfield
How do Braves navigate through Corey Seager and the heart of the Dodgers lineup?
Seeger was the main bat for the Dodgers, hitting 0.375 with five home runs and 11 RBIs in the series. Once Anderson leaves, you might think the solution would be to make sure the left-hander meets Sieger … in addition to four of the five home runs went from left-handers, including one from AJ Minter in the game 2 one with Tyler Matzek in Game 5. So maybe the lefties aren’t facing Sieger – remember that the unloader has to face three beatings if the inning doesn’t end – and you’re more worried about Muki Betts in the lidofa spot, and Justin Turner comes in third, so the right-handers face the top of the lineup.
One thing is for sure: everyone is available. In both Games 5 and 6, neither Braves’ relief broke through. Chris Martin in Game 6 threw 30 fields, so he is the only one who can destroy something. Minter threw 42 positions in Game 5 as a starter, but was so dominant with seven kicks in three innings that he certainly has the opportunity. The guy who laid out situations with a high lever, who can we No see Will Smith. He gave up seven home runs for 16 innings in the regular season and then a big one for Wills Smith Dodgers in Game 5, and also went through two shots in Game 4. So it’s most likely a combination of Matzek, Minter, Shane Green, Martin perhaps third-party gunman Darren O’Day, if that’s a bilateral situation, then closer to Mark Melanson. That’s enough depth to go through nine innings. – Shenfield
Will Ronald Acuna Jr. do anything?
The Braves hit .263 / .333 / .450 in the series, but Acuna did not cause much damage, hitting .190 without home runs and two takes. He scored 34% of the time in the postseason, so sweeping and misses were a problem throughout the season. Needless to say, his presence at the base in front of Freddie Freeman and Marcel Ozuna is a big factor. The two raked. The Braves were the best team to hit the fastest ball among the majors – in fact, they were the best fastball team in the majors for the past 13 years – but the Dodgers beat Akunu with plenty of fast balls in the zone, and then smashed the bullets away. – Schoenfield
Match wild cards
Which match is worth setting up to see?
Freddie Freeman vs. Brusdard Graterol. There are only two regular players that Graterol has not encountered in NLCS: Acuña and Freeman. This can happen in the first inning. This can happen on the seventh or eighth or ninth. Freeman has seen 28 footballs this season at 98 mph. He took 16 for the ball, fouled out of four, flew three times, swung and missed twice, single, doubled and knocked out
In other words, if Graterol puts a heater in the zone, Freeman will most likely not look at it. And given his propensity to cause harm, this is a case that could shake the whole series. – Passan
Who is such a vile, unlikely hero?
No one in the NLCS hits the ball as hard as Jock Pederson of the Dodgers – and the longer Anderson goes, the more likely he is to stay in the game. Pederson scored 14 times in the NLCS. Ten of them had a speed of more than 100 mph – and the other four – 99 mph, 89.7 mph, 88.3 mph and 83.5 mph. Pederson was so pedestrian during the regular season, keeping him on the bench because the striker seemed to be in pain. Roberts got stuck against his right-handers, and he retaliated not only by breaking the ball, but also by making contact. Pederson, who has been something of a hook artist throughout his career, has only scored twice in the NLCS. – Passan
What is the strategic element that can come into play?
Work out a minimum rule for three pitcher beats, aiming for tough platoon fights that could be the third from the camp. Remember: the minimum does not apply when the inning ends, and for the Braves team, which carried 15 pitchers (!) In its list of seasons for 28 people, it can use this to its advantage.
The Dodgers almost certainly don’t want to play in early innings – not unless it’s bound to leave them prone to later, potentially more important situations – so if AJ Pollock ever gets two outs? Darren O’Day was asleep. Should Cody Bellinger find himself in the same situation? Bern Grant Dayton or, if this is important enough, Will Smith. Managers should treat each exit in Game 7 as if the season depends on it, and with as many pitchers as the Braves have, each tang gives them the opportunity to use the final exit to gain an advantage. – Passan