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Odds and Ends

Best Bet for NLCS Game 5

by Kenny Ducey
Updated On: October 21, 2021, 5:47 pm ET

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We've got just one game on the docket for Thursday, which is Game 5 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 (+120) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (-140) Total: 8

The series script would seem to favor the Dodgers, wouldn't it? Surely the defending champions won't go down at home without a fight, right?

Well, I don't think it's quite that simple. Not with Max Fried on the hill for Atlanta. After a great close to the season, the lefty has pitched to a 1.50 ERA in the postseason, allowing just two runs in 12 innings without walking a single hitter. Free passes were the lifeblood of the Dodgers all season, who ranked second in walk rate all year long.

Fried also comes from the left side, and Los Angeles has struggled mightily over the past couple of years against southpaws. There's one more advantage that Fried has, and that's his arsenal.

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No, I'm not talking about his electric fastball, even though that's been a pretty great pitch for Fried in the second half. I'm talking about his curveball, which he's used effectively throughout the course of the season. The Dodgers ranked 21st in weighted runs per 100 curveballs this year, and won't find much joy in seeing Fried on the bump. After all, they scratched across just two runs off of him in Game 1.

We're not totally sure who will start or pitch the bulk of the innings for the Dodgers, but there's a chance it's David Price, who could be activated to replace the injured Justin Turner. If that's the case, I think I have to love the Braves even more here given his ineffectiveness down the stretch as a starter and the long gap between starts.

Everything is breaking for Atlanta in this game, and we didn't even talk about the injury to Turner, which will make it even more difficult to hit a left-hander here. The Braves should wrap this series up in five games, which would have been a big, big surprise prior to the season. It's not so surprising now.

Edge: Braves +120

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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.