Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves (+129, 6)
The Atlanta Braves have lost seven consecutive playoff series and might have to face Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw twice in order to end that dismal streak. Atlanta hosts the Dodgers in Thursday’s opener of the National League Division Series and a Game 1 victory over Kershaw would bolster the Braves’ odds of prevailing. The Dodgers are back in the postseason after a three-season absence and turned their season around with a stretch of 42 wins in 50 games.
Los Angeles will ride the bats of shortstop Hanley Ramirez, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Yasiel Puig in the series and is moving outfielder Carl Crawford into the leadoff spot for the opener. Atlanta’s most consistent bat belongs to first baseman Freddie Freeman and he’ll receive offensive support from outfielder Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson. The Braves opted to leave struggling Dan Uggla off the series roster and will go with journeyman Elliot Johnson as the starting second baseman.
TV: 8:37 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: Temperatures in the mid 70s with clear skies and winds blowing SSE at 2 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83 ERA) vs. Braves RH Kris Medlen (15-12, 3.11)
Kershaw led the majors in ERA and WHIP (0.92) and had an NL-leading 232 strikeouts while putting together a season that will likely earn him his second Cy Young Award. He hasn’t faced Atlanta since 2011 and is 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA in four career outings against the Braves. Kershaw limited opposing hitters to a .187 average in 16 road starts while going 8-3 with a 2.14 ERA.
Medlen was superb down the stretch, going 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in five September starts while being named NL Pitcher of the Month. He went 1-0 against the Dodgers this season, allowing one unearned run and seven hits over 13 2/3 innings and is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in eight career appearances (three starts). Medlen was 9-3 with a 2.38 ERA after the All-Star break.
* Under is 6-1-1 in the last eight meetings in Atlanta.
* Under is 10-2 in the last 12 meetings.
* Dodgers are 2-5 in the last seven meetings in Atlanta.
* Dodgers are 2-5 in the last seven meetings.
1. The Braves won the season series, 5-2, but all the meetings were in the first half of the season before the Dodgers caught fire.
2. Atlanta OF Justin Upton is just 3-for-29 with nine strikeouts against Kershaw from his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
3. Los Angeles OF Andre Ethier (ankle) has batted once since Sept. 13, while OF Matt Kemp (ankle) will miss the postseason.