2021 MLB Playoffs: Braves Vs. Dodgers NLCS Preview, Schedule, & TV Info
Ozzie Albies, Will Smith, 2021 Season
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2021 regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers won 106 games. With a Wild Card and NLDS win, they are up to 110. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves won 88 regular season games and three playoff games, putting them at 91 total.

And yet, due to MLB rules, the Braves will have home-field advantage as the two meet in the NLCS for the second straight season. Last year, the Braves held a 3-1 series lead before the Dodgers won three consecutive games, earning them a spot in the World Series.

In 2021, the two meet again in different circumstances. The Dodgers — while expected to be one of the best teams in baseball — had a remarkably difficult path to get here. Having to win a Wild Card Game and defeat the 106-win San Francisco Giants in a historic five-game series has undoubtedly proven their status atop the league.

The Braves, meanwhile, were expected to be sellers at the trade deadline after losing several key players to injury. Instead, they put together a strong second half, won the NL East, and defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in just four games.

Braves Preview

The Braves head into this series as massive underdogs. Since the injury to superstar Ronald Acuna Jr., this team’s offense has been carried by their infield. Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and Austin Riley have turned their game up to another level to try and will the Braves to a World Series.

Meanwhile, their pitching has also kicked things into high gear. Max Fried, Ian Anderson, and Charlie Morton were electric during the NLDS, as the Brewers scored a total of six runs in 36 innings. They also have had some help from former Dodgers slugger, Joc Pederson, who is known for his October heroics.

Should the Braves lose this series, they can hold their heads high knowing they blew past all expectations to be here and have a massively bright future. However, that wouldn’t be enough for a roster that feels they can be the best in baseball, even without Acuna.

They’ll have home-field advantage to back them up, and it’s important they use it. It would be a troubling sign if they went back to Los Angeles for three straight games if the series was tied 1-1 or if the Dodgers had a 2-0 lead.

Dodgers Preview

The Dodgers are coming off the electric atmosphere of their rivalry series with the Giants. As it was destined to, everything came down to the final out in the fifth game, when Max Scherzer was on the mound to close the series. It was his first big league save, and it came at the most crucial time.

For L.A., it’s important that they avoid a let-down to start the series. Professional sports teams have a tendency to underperform in the games following a massive win, as they exhausted all their energy trying to get that win. They simply cannot afford to have that against a Braves team looking for any advantage they can get.

Talent-wise, the Dodgers have a huge leg up on the Braves. There’s a reason that L.A. had an 18-game lead over the Braves during the regular season and won the season series with them, 4-2.

The Dodgers will still be without Max Muncy and Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is out for the playoffs, but there was hope that Muncy could be back in time for the NLCS or World Series. Muncy suffered a dislocated elbow during the final game of the regular season, and now the World Series is his only chance to re-join the team.

L.A. is also hoping to see improvements from Trea Turner and Justin Turner, both of whom had less-than-ideal performances in the NLDS. If they can step up and regain their normal form, the Dodgers figure to be extremely difficult to beat.

Braves (88-74) vs. Dodgers (106-56)

Game 1:
Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
Saturday, October 16, 5:08 p.m. PT
ATL: Max Fried vs. LAD: Corey Knebel (opener)

Game 2:
Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
Sunday, October 17, 4:38 p.m. PT

Game 3:
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
Tuesday, October 19, 2:08 p.m. PT

Game 4:
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
Wednesday, October 20, 5:08 p.m. PT

Game 5 (if necessary):
Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, California
Thursday, October 21, 5:08 p.m. PT

Game 6 (if necessary):
Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
Saturday, October 23, 2:08 p.m. PT

Game 7 (if necessary):
Truist Park, Atlanta, Georgia
Sunday, October 24, 4:38 p.m. PT

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