A year ago, the Dodgers went to Game 7 of the World Series while the Braves finished 25 games behind the Nationals in the National League East, but tonight the clubs open the best-of-five 2018 NL Division Series at Dodger Stadium, where Hyun-Jin Ryu, not Clayton Kershaw, is slated to
A year ago, the Dodgers went to Game 7 of the World Series while the Braves finished 25 games behind the Nationals in the National League East, but tonight the clubs open the best-of-five 2018 NL Division Series at Dodger Stadium, where Hyun-Jin Ryu, not Clayton Kershaw, is slated to start for Los Angeles against Atlanta's Mike Foltynewicz. The last time the clubs played in the postseason was the 2013 NLDS, won by the Dodgers in four games.
:: NLDS schedule and results ::
Official starting lineups:
Braves: Produced the NL's second-best OPS vs. LHPs:
- Ronald Acuna Jr., LF
- Johan Camargo, 3B
- Freddie Freeman, 1B
- Nick Markakis, RF
- Tyler Flowers, C
- Ozzie Albies, 2B
- Ender Inciarte, CF
- Charlie Culberson, SS
- Mike Foltynewicz, RHP
Dodgers: No surprises for the platoon vs. RHP:
- Joc Pederson, LF
- Justin Turner, 3B
- Player Page for Max Muncy, 1B
- Manny Machado, SS
- Yasmani Grandal, C
- Cody Bellinger, CF
- Yasiel Puig, RF
- Enrique Hernandez, 2B
- Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP
Who are the starting pitchers?
Braves: Foltynewicz (13-10, 2.85 ERA) established himself as one of the game's top starters as he successfully harnessed his emotions this year. The right-hander modified his windup and found more consistency with his slider and changeup. The All-Star hurler became the sixth Braves pitcher in the Atlanta era (since 1966) to record at least 200 strikeouts.
Dodgers: Ryu has been lights-out for two months since returning from a bad groin strain, and he will make his first postseason start since 2014, when he went six innings against the Cardinals.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Braves: Closer Arodys Vizcaino's healthy return and setup man Chad Sobotka's unexpected late-season emergence have eased some concerns about what had been a suspect bullpen.
Vizcaino, Sobotka, Minter and Jonny Venters will be Atlanta's top options. Max Fried's late-season success as a reliever may also earn him some high-leverage appearances.
Dodgers: The bullpen is easily the most uncertain part of the club. All-Star closer Kenley Jansen is the surprising wild card, serving up homers in stunning numbers. If he falters, Kenta Maeda has made the transition from starter seamlessly for the second consecutive year. Scott Alexander is the situational lefty, while Alex Wood showed in the World Series last year that he has the confidence and courage for the moment, even after being bounced from the rotation. Pedro Baez has been under-the-radar great the past two months (one run in his past 19 outings). Dylan Floro had been very effective, but was hardly used last week, pretty much the same story with Caleb Ferguson.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Braves: The Braves will enter the NLDS without left-hander Jesse Biddle and right-handers Dan Winkler and Shane Carle, who enjoyed periods of success this year but faded down the stretch.
Dodgers: The club hasn't said so, although Floro and Ferguson have seen less action lately.
Any injuries of note?
Braves: Shortstop Dansby Swanson will miss the series with a torn ligament in his left hand. Lucas Duda battled a sore back last week but is available to be a primary pinch-hit option.
Dodgers:James Dozier has talked about a bruised right knee he's had all season but hasn't missed playing time. Turner bruised his left thumb but hasn't missed a start.
Who is hot and who is not?
Braves: Ozzie Albies thrived against left-handed pitchers and struggled mightily against righties after the break. Freddie Freeman cooled for a three-week stretch, but he was once again one of baseball's top hitters over the season's final three weeks.
Dodgers: The elephant in the room is the closer Jansen, who has been erratic. Offensively, David Freese is hitting .385 since being acquired. Grandal finished 9-for-20 and Hernandez 11-for-20 on last week's trip. Walker Buehler is coming off the start of a lifetime.
Anything else fans might want to know?
The Dodgers went 5-2 against the Braves during the regular season and were 2-1 against them in a home series in June when Stripling and Wood started. Buehler started the other game in the June series against Brandon McCarthy and allowed one run on two hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 7-3 win.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.