First pitch: 8:08 p.m. ET
Venue: Globe Life Field
Probable pitchers: Max Fried (7-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.44 ERA)
Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Predictions
When Walker Buehler emerged as a rookie two years ago, he immediately presented an affection for the big stage by crafting a dominant performance in Game 163 to capture the National League West title.
While that technically wasn’t a postseason game, this is when I realized Playoff Buehler had arrived — and that he’d be a figure to consistently count on.
Buehler has now made eight playoffs starts in his three-year career, notching a delightful 2.84 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Most impressive, he’s also accumulated 60 Ks across his 44.1 total postseason innings, striking out seven or eight in each outing.
Clearly, this is someone that knows how to handle the bright lights; and he’s already a legitimate frontline pitcher as it is. Buehler comes in riding hot, too, as he he’s yielded only three runs combined in his three starts since coming off the injured list a few weeks ago just prior to the regular season finale.
That includes a pair of postseason ones in which he also managed to rack up 16 strikeouts. While he only went four innings apiece, I don’t envision that happening again anytime soon, meaning he’ll be in position to effectively go deep into the game and then hand it to a stellar bullpen.
Like his counterpart, Max Fried has also been featured prominently in Octobers as of late, though this is the first one he’s been able to start. Fried’s picking up his third Game 1 assignment already, after mixed results in the first two that saw him hold down the Cincinnati Reds for seven scoreless innings but then get surprisingly hit by the Miami Marlins his last time out.
When Fried gets tagged like that (and it was really only one tough inning), however, it’s pretty rare, so I’m banking on the NL Cy Young contender to bounce back right away like I know he’s capable.
The Dodgers are generally a tough matchup for any pitcher but at least we know they’re not as consistently dangerous opposite left-handed pitching. The 2020 campaign marked the third straight season in which LA registered a team batting average against lefties that was a considerable amount of points below that of when facing right-handers.
Fried is too talented to let any struggles spill into another start, especially on this stage. He’ll be ready for Playoff Buehler.
2020 MLB Over/Under Betting Record*
Regular season: “19-42-4,” -28.91 units
Postseason: 7-3, +2.45 units
Last Result: Astros-Rays Under 8.5 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit (postseason 0.5 unit except first one)