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Atlanta Braves (96-66) vs Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70)
Bring on the heat. Both of these NLDS pitching staffs feature flame throwers. Dodgers with Cy Young front-runner Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and relievers paced by closer Kenley Jansen. Kershaw & Greinke represent the best 1-2 punch in this year's playoffs on paper. Don't crowd the plate against Braves starters Medlen, Teheran & Minor. Fire baller closer Kimbrel saved 50 of 54 and sports a career 15.1 strikeouts per 9 innings.
Probable rotations: (LA) Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu vs (Atl) Medlen, Minor, Teheran.
Dodgers enter the series with two big injuries. Matt Kemp is inactive. Andre Ethier will only be used as a pinch hitter in NLDS. LA's Game 1 lineup: LF Crawford, 2B Ellis, SS Ramirez, 1B Gonzalez, RF Puig, 3B Uribe, CF Schumaker, C Ellis. Dodgers offense was banged up early on in 2013. Ramirez & Kemp missed time with injuries. Puig was still playing minor league ball. Manager Don Mattingly seemed only moments away from being replaced after LA stumbled to a 30-42 record. LA caught fire when Puig joined the lineup. Their lineup was juiced once Ramirez returned. Before you knew it LA finished the year 62-28 and Mattingly went from potential firing to Manager of the Year candidate. Timely hitting & lights out pitching is their theme.
Atlanta decided to keep Uggla off of their roster ... by choice. Uggla was miserable at the dish batting an anemic .179. His defense at 2B will be sorely missed. Braves opening lineup: CF Heyward, RF J. Upton, 1B Freeman, LF Gattis, C McCann, 3B Johnson, SS Simmons, 2B Johnson = 4th highest run production in NL.
Prediction: Kershaw & Greinke are just too tough in a best of five series. Dodgers play much better defense too. Dodgers sweep.