LOS ANGELES DODGERS (93-70)
at ATLANTA BRAVES (96-67)
National League Division Series Game 2 - Dodgers lead series 1-0
First pitch: Friday, 6:05 p.m. ET
Line: Los Angeles -105, Atlanta -105, Total: 6.5
Already having dropped the first game of the series at home, the Braves face a critical Game 2 on Friday evening as the Dodgers seek to gain a significant 2-0 lead in the Best of 5 series before returning to Los Angeles.
Ace Clayton Kershaw led the Dodgers to their 6-1 victory in Thursday's NLDS Game 1, while Braves starter Kris Medlen lasted only four innings and surrendered five runs on nine hits. That places even more pressure on Atlanta left-hander Mike Minor (13-9, 3.21 ERA), who hasn't won in six straight starts with his team losing each of the past five times he's taken the mound. Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63 ERA) is L.A.'s second ace and won’t make things easy, giving up two or fewer runs in each of his past 12 starts. The Braves are still 5-3 against the Dodgers this season, including 3-1 at Turner Field, and have rarely dropped consecutive games at home this season with a majors-best 56-26 mark (.683) in Atlanta. They are 20-4 (.833) in home games after a loss this season.
Greinke (1.11 WHIP) was absolutely phenomenal to finish the season, lowering his ERA from 3.43 to 2.63 in the final two months. He posted a 1.23 ERA in August and a 1.75 ERA in September while posting a 7-1 record (team was 9-2). He finished the season with 148 strikeouts and 46 walks in 177.2 innings. In his lone start against the Braves this season, he pitched seven scoreless innings in a 5-0 Dodgers victory. In his career, he is 1-1 (team 1-2) with a 3.50 ERA and 1.06 WHIP against the Braves. The one guy who has really owned him has been OF Justin Upton (5-for-11, 4 walks, 1 HR) while OF brother B.J. Upton (4-for-23, 11 K's) has dreaded this matchup. Greinke's only postseason outings came in 2011, when in three starts with the Brewers, he struggled mightily with a 6.48 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. But if he suffers more trouble in the playoffs, the Dodgers bullpen is well-rested after throwing just two innings on Thursday. This unit has posted a solid 3.48 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 2013, numbers that are slightly better on the road (3.46 ERA, 1.25 WHIP).
Minor (1.09 WHIP) wasn’t terrible to finish the season with a 3.94 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in September, but the Braves lost each of his five starts in the month while giving him an average of 2.4 runs per game in support. With 181 strikeouts and just 46 walks in 204.2 innings this year, the lefty's peripherals were strong while he kept batters to a .232 BA and .275 OBP. And he has owned Los Angeles in his career with a 2.32 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, recording a 1-1 record (team 3-2) in five starts. The one guy to figure him out has been Adrian Gonzalez (3-for-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI), while many others have not, including OF Andre Ethier (0-for-6, 2 K's) and 3B Juan Uribe (0-for-5, 3 K's). While the Atlanta bullpen had to throw five innings Thursday, it remains one of the best units in baseball with a 2.45 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, numbers that improve to a 2.12 ERA and 1.05 WHIP at Turner Field.