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Odds and Ends

Best Bet for NLCS Game 3

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: October 19, 2021, 3:12 pm ET

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We've got just one game on the docket for Tuesday, which is Game 3 of the NLCS between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. While it's a hard one to call, I do have a play on this game and will waste no more time in getting into it now.

Atlanta Braves (+160) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (-190) Total: 7.5

The series script would seem to favor the Dodgers, wouldn't it? You've got a team with the second-best record in baseball and perhaps the most talented hitters throwing their ace at home in a must-win game down 2-0. In situations like this, your gut would tell you there's absolutely no way the Dodgers lose.

Well, I'm here to tell you there's absolutely a chance, and the Braves have no business being underdogs of this proportion given the matchup.

The last time Charlie Morton pitched at Dodger Stadium in October, he recorded the final out of the World Series for the Houston Astros, taking over in the sixth inning and firing four innings of one-run ball, striking out four. Since then, he's proven himself as a big-game pitcher, recording a 3.44 ERA in his postseason career.

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Morton comes in off the back of two pretty solid outings. He threw five nearly perfect innings against the Brewers before giving up a two-run jack in the sixth inning of a game the Braves would go on to lose, and he gave up just two runs again in Game 4 on short rest, though he did only last 3 1/3 innings.

The Braves will certainly be excited to throw Morton on normal rest with a 2-0 lead, considering his track record and his specialty pitch.

He's not called "Uncle Charlie" for nothing; Morton possesses perhaps the best curveball in the league, ranking in the top 2% of curve spin in baseball. The Dodgers? Well, they rank 21st in weighted runs per 100 curveballs.

Walker Buehler has had one good start and one very bad one this postseason, and coming off a season where his spin rate dropped in wake of the league's crackdown on foreign substances, I've had a hard time really getting behind him for months even with some good results. The Braves had 10 hits in Game 2 and have proven themselves to be a very capable offense.

Edge: Over 9

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Kenny Ducey

Kenny Ducey is a former member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, writing and editing for Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus. His work also appears at DraftKings and The Action Network. Follow him on Twitter @KennyDucey.