The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers face off in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Tuesday afternoon (5 pm CST) at neutral site Arlington (Dallas).
Atlanta stole Game 1 in surprise fashion, winning a 5-1 on Sunday night. That suddenly leaves the World Series odds-on favourites, the Dodgers badly in need of a victory. They'll be in good shape to get it today, with their ace veteran on the mound.
Clayton Kershaw, long considered one of baseball's best pitchers (but prone to post-season meltdowns) throws the opening pitch for the Dodgers. He'll face Ian Anderson for Atlanta, a young rookie, who brings in a blistering short resume that looks every bit as impressive. Anderson won both of his playoff starts without allowing a run. He also struck out 17 batters in just 12 innings.
SPREADS.CA lists the Dodgers as prohibitive favourites, while the over-under is 7.5 runs.
Note that although only three games have been played in the LCS, including two games in the American League (Tampa Bay vs. Houston), all three games have gone under the total. It appears this game could follow suit, especially given the pedigree of starting pitchers for the Dodgers and Braves.
Kershaw will be making his 28th playoff start – including two wins this season versus San Diego and Milwaukee. Perhaps an even more convincing stat that the Dodgers merit being favoured by this high number is the fact that Los Angeles has defeated Atlanta ten consecutive times in games started by Kershaw. That impressive win-streak stretching back to 2011 – including three playoff games. Kershaw has been astounding in those starts dating back nearly a decade, allowing just seven earned runs total (ERA 0.82).
Kershaw's World Series woes are cancelled out by his historical dominance over the Braves. But that was then. This is now.
MY PICK: Anderson is the real deal. He'll match Kershaw in intensity with every pitch. This makes the Braves getting roughly 3:2 odds an excellent value. Atlanta should play loose with not nearly as much pressure at the Dodgers, who really this game today. In a close low-scoring game that could break either way, I'll take the pitcher that hasn't allowed a run so far in the post-season, who might not be getting his due by oddsmakers. BET ATLANTA BRAVES
UPDATE AND CORRECTION: Shortly after this article was posted, it was announced that Kershaw will not start Game 2. This makes Atlanta an even stronger play now (though the odds are now being updated). Check SPREADS.CA for latest odds.