Yesterday, we took a look at the offense and benches between the Braves and Dodgers and in the third and final part of our preview, we tackled both teams’ starting pitching and bullpen ahead of Game 1 tomorrow.
The Atlanta Braves ranked No. 1 in not only the National League, but MLB this year in combined ERA at 3.18. Their starting pitching, alone, ranks sixth in the league in ERA at 3.51 and their entire pitching staff is easily the strongest part of their team.
They allowed the fewest runs in baseball, just 548 and allowed the fourth fewest home runs in baseball with only 127 allowed this season.
The Braves have three starting pitchers that rank in the top 20 in ERA with Kris Medlen at 3.11, Julio Teheran at 3.20 and Mike Minor at 3.21. They’re also near the top in WHIP with Medlen having the highest of the three at 1.22, Teheran comes in at 1.17 and Minor having the best of the three at 1.09.
Despite losing the veteran leadership of Tim Hudson near the end of the season with a broken ankle, the Braves have had strong contributions from left-hander Paul Maholm and youngster Alex Wood. However, Maholm was left off the postseason roster and veteran right hander Freddy Garcia is their fourth starter.
Medlen will determine their fate in the postseason as he’ll be called on to face Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. Medlen finished the year 15-11 with 155 strikeouts while yielding an opposition average of .256.
The Braves starting staff looks strong and is one of the best in baseball, but the best starting pitching goes to the Dodgers rotation. The pitching staff is led in large part by Kershaw, but have another ace in Zack Greinke right behind him ready to take the ball in Game 2.
The Dodgers led the league in ERA at 3.13 among starting rotations and came in second behind the Braves in combined ERA at 3.25. Their starting pitching came in third in WHIP at 1.18 and second behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in opposition’s batting average at .245
Leading the way for the Dodgers is Cy Young front-runner Kershaw, who leads the league in ERA at 1.83, WHIP at 0.92 and in strikeouts at 232 for the season.
The Dodgers No. 2 starter would be any other teams ace as Greinke would be the Dodgers best pitcher if it weren’t for Kershaw. Greinke owns a 2.63 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .234 average against and 148 strikeouts despite missing time with a broken collarbone suffered early in the season after a fight with Carlos Quentin of the San Diego Padres.
Their third starter, rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu has impressed in his first year with a 3.00 ERA and 154 strikeouts while Ricky Nolasco, who came over in a trade with the Marlins, was impressive to start his Dodger career.
It’ll be a matchup of the top two starting rotations and it’ll be a great series to watch, especially if you’re a fan of strong pitching.
Next Page: How do the bullpens stack up?