The Dodgers’ path toward a second straight World Series title will reintroduce them to a Braves club that knows how close it was to competing in last year’s Fall Classic.
Atlanta and Los Angeles will meet in the National League Championship Series for a second straight year. The Braves owned a 3-1 series lead before the Dodgers claimed three straight victories to capture last year’s NLCS, which was played at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
“I don’t think anybody is looking to play the Dodgers to be vindicated,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “We’re happy to be here and playing good baseball. I think we’re a very confident team right now."
The Braves will have home-field advantage because the Dodgers were a Wild Card entrant. That means Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 would be played in Atlanta, while Games 3, 4 and 5 would be played in Los Angeles.
When is Game 1 and how can I watch it?
The series opener starts at 8:07 p.m. ET/5:07 PT on Saturday at Truist Park and it will be televised on TBS. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
What are the starting lineups?
Dodgers: With lefty Max Fried on the mound for the Braves, the Dodgers are stacking their Game 1 lineup with right-handed hitters; the only lefty batter in the lineup is Corey Seager. Albert Pujols gets the start at first base over NLDS Game 5 hero Cody Bellinger, and AJ Pollock slots in at left field after losing out on some playing time to Gavin Lux.
- Mookie Betts, RF
- Trea Turner, 2B
- Corey Seager, SS
- Justin Turner, 3B
- Will Smith, C
- Albert Pujols, 1B
- AJ Pollock, LF
- Chris Taylor, CF
- Corey Knebel, RHP
Braves: With right-hander Corey Knebel opening for L.A. and righty Tony Gonsolin expected to handle several innings later in the game, lefty-hitting Eddie Rosario will start at leadoff for just the second time in his career.
- Eddie Rosario, LF
- Freddie Freeman, 1B
- Ozzie Albies, 2B
- Austin Riley, 3B
- Joc Pederson, RF
- Adam Duvall, CF
- Travis d’Arnaud, C
- Dansby Swanson, SS
- Max Fried, SP
Who are the starting pitchers?
Dodgers: Los Angeles was hoping to stay away from Max Scherzer in Game 5 of the NL Division Series against the Giants, but the right-hander ended up closing out the game with a scoreless ninth. Because of Scherzer's appearance on Thursday, the Dodgers will have reliever Corey Knebel open Game 1, which comes two nights after he threw a scoreless inning as the opener in the Dodgers' NLDS Game 5 win over the Giants. Tony Gonsolin is a likely option to take down the bulk of the innings after Knebel exits.
Braves: Fried led MLB with a 1.74 ERA after the All-Star break, and he tossed six scoreless innings against the Brewers in Game 2 of the NLDS. The lefty has allowed one or zero runs in three of his five career postseason starts.
“I'd call him the best starter in the second half, best starter going down the stretch,” Braves reliever Tyler Matzek said. “A guy that's been absolutely dominating games that we need to win.”
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Dodgers: With a day off on Friday, the Dodgers’ bullpen should be well-rested heading into the series. No reliever threw more than one inning in Game 5 of the NLDS, giving them plenty of bullets moving forward. Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen will continue to be the two options in late-game situations.
Braves: Right-hander Jacob Webb and left-hander A.J. Minter have often been used to bridge the gap to the seventh inning. But lefty Tyler Matzek has been given a chance to handle a majority of the high-leverage situations in the seventh or eighth innings. Luke Jackson has been the primary setup man for closer Will Smith.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Dodgers: Everyone will be available for the Dodgers.
Braves: Atlanta's bullpen will be at full strength. The relief corps should benefit from the three days of rest heading into Game 1.
Any injuries of note?
Dodgers: Left-hander Clayton Kershaw will miss the remainder of the postseason after receiving a PRP injection on his left elbow, so he will not be an option moving forward. Max Muncy (left elbow injury) is also off the roster for this series.
Braves: Soler may miss the entire NLCS. He was placed on the COVID-19 injured list prior to Game 4 of the NLDS and he will likely remain there for at least 10 days.
Who is hot and who is not?
Dodgers: Betts went 4-for-4 in Game 5 against the Giants and he is easily the Dodgers’ best hitter. Betts is batting .458 (11-for-24) with one homer in six postseason games. On the other hand, Justin Turner is struggling at the plate, recording just two hits in his first 24 at-bats this postseason.
Braves: Freeman recorded three hits, including an eighth-inning home run, in Atlanta's decisive win in Game 4 of the NLDS. Duvall recorded a pair of hits in each of the final two games played against the Brewers. Meanwhile, d’Arnaud went 2-for-12 with six strikeouts and Swanson went 3-for-15 in the NLDS.
Anything else fans might want to know?
This will be the fourth time the Dodgers and Braves have met in the postseason going back to the 2013 NLDS. Atlanta hasn’t defeated Los Angeles in a playoff series since 1996. … Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos spent two seasons (2016-17) in the Dodgers’ front office.