NLCS, Game 4: Braves vs. Dodgers

Tonight, the Braves have a David vs. Goliath matchup with Bryse Wilson, who has collected 3 career wins, versus Clayton Kershaw, who has collected 3 career Cy Young awards. Yikes.

Like Kyle Wright (until last night), Wilson has had better results lately with a 2.08 ERA his last 4 appearances mainly relying on 2 fastballs. Put mildly, those 2 fastballs better be perfect tonight.

As stated, Clayton Kershaw is on the mound and he’s really good no matter the handedness of the hitter (think whole lineup of 2020 Ender Inciartes), but he’s slightly less good against RHHs so the Braves have stacked the lineup with 8 players that will hit from that side.

Braves Lineup

I think this is the best we can do against Kershaw without Adam Duvall. I hope it works. 2-2 vs. 3-1 is, obviously, a huge difference and I’d love nothing more than for the Braves to have to win 1 of 3 rather than 2 of 3.

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

232 thoughts on “NLCS, Game 4: Braves vs. Dodgers”

  1. Riley again in left. He’s better at 3rd.

    And Fried is NOT starting game 5 per DOB. Who the hell is left??

  2. Camargo does hit lefties well (or used to), so there’s that. He was swinging out of his shoes this season, though, with a K rate to show for it….

  3. @2: Well, the people who care more about whether we’re embarrassed than whether we actually win will be hiding under their beds for a few days over that one.

    Regarding Riley in left, you can’t spend the last two months wanting nothing more than to get Markakis out of the lineup and then turn around and start wringing your hands over somebody suboptimal playing left field when they finally do. I know you want Duvall out there, but you can’t have it. Your choices are: Markakis in the lineup, Riley in left or Ozuna in left. You have to pick one of those things, there’s no option for none of the above. Well, I guess there are some options for none of the above, by they involve Sandoval at third or Culberson actually starting…so yeah.

  4. @37 from the previous thread, the 538’s model’s preseason forecasts have said the Mets were more likely than the Braves to win the division in each of the last three years, so I’m not too concerned about what it thinks about this series at this point. 2018 I suppose I can buy, but in 2019 and 2020? It also had the Nationals as more likely in each of the last three years, but that’s less ridiculous.

    I like saving Fried for game 6. Most starters don’t pitch as well on short rest, and Fried seems relatively fragile and so not a good candidate for that. I’d rather have full-strength Fried in game 6, even if we’re down 3-2. Most of our good relievers are available tonight, can skip game 5 (in which, btw, I would have Wright as the first reliever rather than the starter, for psychological reasons), and would be good to go in both games 6 & 7.

  5. Not sure what you take issue with. In the absence of Duvall and the revelation that Ozuna can’t play the field, Markakis is no longer an unacceptable option.

  6. In a game in which we’re gonna need to score runs and in which we’ll be facing a lefty, I would argue that he is.

  7. I don’t normally make predictions on games, but I will go ahead and stake my reputation as an internet rando that the Braves will win at least one of games 4 or 5. They’ve been doing it all season. (Yes, I understand that these are the Dodgers.)

  8. I’m fine holding Fried and Anderson back on normal rest in games 6 and 7…if we get that far. That’s the key.

    So I ask again…who starts game 5? Not Ynoa, Dayton or Webb, all of whom pitched last night. Surely not Wright or Wilson. Won’t be Anderson, obviously. Unless they are holding back Culberson instead of playing him in left tonight…that leaves Tomlin.

    Are we OK with that?

  9. @7 I understand thinking that, I’m just confused that you seemed to imply some logical inconsistency in holding a different view. I’m just me, I’m not an amalgamation of the consensus.

  10. I love this team, but I will not be watching the rest of the series; it pains me too much, and physically it’s bad for the ol’ ticker.
    I’ll read the recaps to stay informed.

    Good luck to the hammers!

  11. @9

    I’m not so sure it won’t be Wright. He basically threw a side session yesterday. I’m sure they wouldn’t be expecting him to go deep, but Wright for like four innings could very well be the plan…or at least the hope.

  12. #6/7
    If/when Kershaw leaves the game & LA brings in a RHP, we can re-insert Markakis to replace either the Riley or Camargo spot in the order, if nec.

    FWIW, Markakis is 4 for 15 (w/ 2 2Bs) against Kershaw. Camargo is 0 for 8 with a walk. Riley has never faced him.

    From our roster, Sandoval (15 for 64… 234/254/281) has faced him the most, as one might imagine, but to little success.

    Only Freddie (8 for 31) & Acuna (2 for 10) have taken him deep. Dansby’s 2 for 6. (Oddly, Inciarte’s 6 for 20.)

    Overall, Kershaw has had 11 regular-season starts against ATL & he’s 5-0 w/ a 1.78 ERA. In 3 post-season starts, he’s 2-0 w/ a 0.42 ERA. The Braves seem to be the only club that hasn’t touched him up to some degree in the playoffs.

    But this year is this year and… hey, we’re due… let’s see how different this club really is.

  13. @12 and @14 – So we don’t want to win this series, I guess. Let’s throw weakness to strength.

    Even though it has been announced, I still say we should throw Fried tomorrow, some form of BP game in 6 and then Anderson in 7 should we get there. But what the hell do I know? I’m not a MLB manager. Just a man with a keyboard.

    And sansho – get more of your Criterion collection at the ready. By the way…have you heard of “The Mad Butcher”?

  14. I think we maximize our chances of winning this series with a fully rested Fried and Anderson. If that means taking our chances with falling behind 3-2, then that’s what it means. I can see how that seems counterintuitive, but I think it’s the best option. By winning the first two games, we gave ourselves the chance to win this series without needing a win in games pitched by anybody else. I say we take advantage of that. If we lose tonight, then throw Fried on three days’ rest and it just doesn’t work…then we well and truly are screwed.

    Hopefully, we win tonight and this becomes academic. There’s no question at all that you save Fried for Game 6 if we win tonight IMO.

  15. It’s going to be pretty incredible if we win this series during which we get maybe 6 innings from real starting pitchers (2/3 IP from Wright and, say, 5 IP from Wilson) across a 3-game stretch. Has that ever happened?

  16. Rob, if we get 5 innings from Wilson I’ll be thrilled.
    Still, since we have one start each from Fried and Anderson left, and we only need two wins, I still like our chances.

  17. Braves have feasted on fastballs this year. The game may come down to their ability attack the arsenal of curves, sliders, and slurves Kershaw has, which are all nasty. If they can lay off the breaking stuff for balls and punish the hangers, they can do this.

    Looking for big stuff from Ozzie.

  18. Pache & Acuna is 2/3 of a really good defensive outfield. I’m not as down on Riley’s LF defense as some here (though he may have a lot of trouble with tonight’s wind), but I hope Snit has told him to let Pache have any ball that’s even close.

  19. Wonder if we see more first-pitch breaking stuff tonight after the Dodgers pounced on early fastballs last night?

  20. You said it, Eephus. Those are the luck plays that swing a game. A hard hit double play just a few feet from rbi double.

  21. Joe’s really going off about why MLB should close the roof because the wind is gusting too strongly. Freddie is now wearing goggles. A field mic caught him saying “I can’t see” when he was at the plate.

  22. ububba @ #37

    I would love to see one of our RHHs hit one out to RCF. And by that I mean over the fence!

  23. Yeah, Kershaw’s fastball is barely breaking 90. They’ve got to lay off the breaking stuff and look for the fastball over the plate.

  24. Apparently MLB doesn’t want the roof closed unless it’s raining because of fans in the ballpark during the pandemic.

  25. With two clean innings, Wilson has exceeded my expectations. If he can get six more outs, I’ll hand-deliver the Coke I owe him.

    Gonna look like a line drive in the box score, Oz!

  26. @ #43

    Wet masks are worthless, so bring a change if the weather is damp or you’ve been sweating, etc.

  27. Well, that was a home run in the literal middle of the plate, and you shouldn’t do that.

    Bryse, please don’t have an Episode now.

  28. If you woulda told me Bryce would only give up 1 run in 3 innings I would have taken it 10 out of 10 times

  29. Wow, the Dodger defense has been awful so far, and Kershaw’s sitting at 88-89. If we were going to take advantage, now would be the time.

  30. @54. And he’s looked great doing it. Not lucky. 30 pitches. 21 strikes. And squeezed by the ump on top of it. No walks. Only the one hit.

  31. Aw, dammit. We’re hitting a few balls hard enough, but Kershaw’s doing a very good job keeping the ball down. Our guys could learn a few things from him.

  32. I think Kershaw knows he’s having to break out the smoke and mirrors tonight and is pitching with that in mind. He’s not peak Kershaw, obviously, but he’s pitching really well with what he’s got tonight.

  33. Bryse has always had pretty good command of the mid nineties fastball. He’s looked especially good tonight. But his off speed stuff needs work. Which means there’s not much margin for error on the fastball. He’s thrown one down the middle and Rios crushed it.

  34. Good first few innings by Wilson. Now then, we’ve gotten past the question of will Bryse give us any chance at all and we’re on to the next question. How long do you ride with him if he keeps this up?

  35. I’d have a very short leash at this point. If he could get through the bottom of the order that would be gravy, but I’d yank him at the first sign of trouble.

  36. Kershaw has been painting the bottom inner part of the zone. Hopefully he will leave one up in the middle of the zone soon.

  37. Wilson is way more than halfway to what we needed tonight. Go get it kid!!

    And yeah – we need our guys to start hitting off Kershaw who is clearly not 100%. (That said…his less than 100% is better than most at the top of their game.)

    Edit – cue to Ozuna!!!

  38. 50 pitches with only 1 walk for Wilson through 4. You can’t ask for much more. Got to get the bats working. I was thinking we would wait for the bullpen, but with Kershaw’s command and velocity I don’t see why we can’t break through for a few runs soon.

  39. To answer my own question, I think I let him start the fifth…though the last couple batters of the fourth give me a bit of pause on that.

    Basically, I agree with AAR’s take.

  40. Wilson’s been terrific, and his pitch count is low. At this rate you could get at least a couple of more innings out of him. Which could be very helpful for tomorrow’s bullpen game.

  41. Braves have rolled snakes eyes with 4 innings and one run from Wilson. You’ve got to be willing to go Matzek through Melancon starting as soon as he puts a base runner on with less than two outs.

  42. Not even sure I’d give Wilson another start to an inning now. We have to steal this game and it’s right here for the taking.

  43. Tied 1-1 in the 4th inning, up two games to one. I don’t think there’s any destiny that says that we’re fated to lose this game. I think this is anyone’s game, anyone’s series. And the fact that the Braves are the underdogs, paradoxically, removes a lot of the pressure.

    Yesterday was a nightmare. Today’s another day, as someone else from Atlanta once said.

  44. Drat. Two plays we alllllmost got infield singles on. If we could have extended that inning, we might have been able to push Kershaw to the limit. He clearly doesn’t have a ton in the tank.

  45. @81 – Winning this game is the exact opposite of ‘gravy’, it’s literally the best chance we have to win the series.

    Snitker should be managing like it’s game 7.

  46. The ump gave us a pretty egregious makeup strike call on the first pitch to Bellinger, after missing at least three or four strikes earlier.

  47. @84

    You don’t go “game 7” on this one, we gotta have something in the tank for Fried and Anderson’s starts, but you definitely go for it hard, and this one is definitely looking winnable.

  48. @84 – That’s what lost Snit game 1 of last year’s NLDS.

    And just like that, Wilson’s through 5. Nice!

  49. Holy shit. Send him to the showers and give him a steak dinner, Bryse Wilson just pitched the game of his life.

  50. Wow! As good as Bryse has been, I don’t think I’d let him start a 3rd time through the order.

  51. Chief, I don’t think there’s a single person on this entire blog who had a whole lot more confidence in Bryse Wilson tonight than you did, very much including myself.

    I think he showed each and every one of us something that we didn’t know he had.

  52. It would be amazing not only to win this game, but to win and not totally burn our bullpen. Is one more inning from Wilson asking too much? Also, for those of you who have been around, with the wind blowing like it is, does Wilson’s hair remind anyone else of Rick Mahler?

  53. IMO, the bulldog types do better in situations like this than over the long haul. The guts and guile and willing themselves to a positive outcome play up in a one off and down over 36 starts.

  54. @86 – The only guys that you don’t throw tonight are Fried and Anderson, that’s it. In terms of game theory you are far, far better off burning all of your best relievers if it means you can win this game rather than trying to save some of them for a game 5.

  55. This’ll be interesting. They had Matzek warming up, so I would guess the plan is for Bryse to face the first two and to bring Matzek in for Seager.

  56. We don’t need to burn our relievers. We just flipped the switch and had our BP game last night. Thank God Bryse delivered tonight. At this point, we just need to hit. The pen can take care of the rest.

  57. Ok, go get him right now for the lefty. Pen can finish 3.1 innings. Just need offense to put one more up.

    Or not. Ok, let’s go Bryse.

    Edit: What do I know

  58. What a start by Wilson!!!
    The braves young starters have been phenomenal this postseason (with one obvious exception 😀) but this performance by Wilson has been the best yet.

  59. For tonight at least Bryse Wilson is a bonafide stallion. Has there ever been a more unexpected Braves starting pitcher performance in the post season? I can’t think of one, but that’s probably because in the 90s we always had a stacked rotation.

  60. Dammit. Injury (?) after that BS strike 2 call that should have been an effing walk.

    EDIT: I hope he’s really OK.

  61. I hesitate to say it because of the way it ended but Freddy Garcia matched Kershaw pitch for pitch. (That was the Kimbrel staying in the bullpen game.)

  62. Any of you old-timers come up with anything for @105? I honestly can’t come anything to touch what Bryse did tonight.

  63. @118

    We were never, ever THIS shaky in the rotation on any playoff team.


  64. (Freddy Garcia was the only thing that I could see in the last two decades, too — but given that Wilson’s 22, I’m willing to believe he might have more in the tank.)

  65. And (with a hat tip to Chip) Bryse is in line for a win!!!

    As to the question, Freddy Garcia is all I can think of. But this definitely tops that.

  66. Stealing a game = gravy. To be sure, we’re not done, but this is not what was expected tonight. Keep it up!

  67. I’m so thrilled with Marcell’s performance tonight that I’m actually hoping the NL adopts the DH next year–and I hate the idea of the DH!

  68. @125, @126 – I remember being really pleasantly surprised at Garcia’s start too, but not like this, maybe because as bad as his stuff was at that point he was still crafty as hell, and I remembered having watched him pitch some postseason gems. I seem to remember having watched him throw a shutout in the World Series with the White Sox in 05 – or maybe it was in the ALCS?

  69. YES YES YES!

    By the way I’m still watching on TV and listening to the Braves radio feed, so I have no idea what Joe Buck and John Smoltz think about all this and I’m fine with that.

  70. Methinks Graterol will be throwing his glove for a different reason today.

    Or what JonathanF said!

    @141: They’re giving Bryse his due. Still talking about this comeback in terms of how good Wilson’s performance.

  71. I have an explanation: because we scored 2 runs last night in the 9th we stole back the momentum haha

  72. 141 — To their credit, they have been praising Wilson like crazy.

    I think Smoltz is trying too hard to be neutral that he almost seems pro-Dodgers though.

  73. Break it open! I did mention the 92 NLCS earlier today. This is how it’s done.

    (And I guess Avery doesn’t count because he had such a great season, but his debut was awesome in the postseason.)

    ETA – But let’s be careful. We were up 7-0 just the other night and look what nearly happened.

  74. @124 How about 1982 for weak 3rd & 4th starters? I remember it being a lot of Phil Niekro, half a year of Pascual Perez, and not much else. Still amazed by Niekro’s October 1 game. Last start of the season, team in a tight pennant race, and he goes to 17-4 by throwing a 3-hit shutout and hitting a 2-run HR in the 8th when the score is 1-0. At the age of 43.

    @118, being an old-timer doesn’t help much unless you’re old enough to remember 1958 and before, as the Braves only made the postseason twice between 1958 and 1991 and went I believe 1-6 in those games.

  75. Christian has gone deep in the count in just about every at-bat. Truly impressive poise from the kid.


  76. Pache is the real deal. Andruw had way more raw power but nowhere near this kind of control of the strike zone.

  77. 6 IP, 1 Hit

    So much for the Braves unproven young starting pitchers and their craven naysayers.

    Eat it.

  78. @149 – Weird, I’ve had the same feeling too – but it’s not Harbour that he reminds me of, I think maybe it’s Mark Lemke.

  79. @157 – I would not call the naysayers craven, sir. Folty-DFA’d. Newk back in the minors. Wright shit the bed last night. Wilson had an excellent start today but still pitched to a 4 ERA in his 15 innings this year (I know – a SSS.)

    All that said, let’s take what we can get. Keep hitting, Braves!

  80. @163 – I can see that, but Schreiber is definitely sort of a more handsome version, even if Bryse has better hair.

  81. Son of a gun, how many damned strikes is this umpire going to miss tonight?

  82. Christ on a stick! It’s hard enough battling the other team. We don’t need the umps on their side too! I’ve had about enough of it!

    And no, Joe Buck – they aren’t jumping right back into it. They scored 1 run.

    And then so did we!

  83. Stick with Martin, or got Matzek. Matzek has been warming up all night so we might as well use him, but otherwise I’d be tempted to let him start tomorrow and try to throw two or three.

  84. And of course he calls an ball inside to Marcell a strike.

    But my goodness, when Marcell Ozuna is hot, he is unbelievable.

  85. It’s not often that I audibly yell at an official at the top of my lungs through my TV screen, but Cory Blaser earned that honor tonight.

    OZUNA!!!! That entire 20-minute inning was worth precisely squat, Dodgers!!! Ha ha!!!

  86. Yeah, now the ump is calling borderline calls against the Braves.

    I think d’Arnaud has been costing us strikes with his framing the last couple of nights. He’s moving his glove too much.

  87. “Ok Mr Ozuna, I’m going to go ahead and sign the check. You just fill in the dollar amount yourself.”

  88. There is no way I’m moving the blame from the umpire to d’Arnaud for that abhorrent strike zone (not that that’s what you said, exactly). Especially when pitch framing is a stupid skill that shouldn’t even be a thing, because there should be an electronic strike zone.

  89. @203, yeah, I think you and I are on the same page. The umpires have missed a lot of calls the last couple nights. But I think d’Arnaud has been moving his glove too much.

  90. Umpire is abysmal, but the Dodgers C is better at framing.

    FWIW, I hate framing.

    But it did just make me think of an exercise. A list of the GOAT at every possible baseball ‘act’.

    Such as, who’s the best catcher framer of all time. Who was the best sacrifice bunter? Who was the best baserunner of all time (not SB). Who has the lowest ERA or OBA with the bases loaded and no outs in relief (innings to qual).

    And then, vice versa, who would be the WOAT at many of those things.

  91. Without looking it up (old fogie alert!).
    Best framer: Molina (any, other than Benji)
    Best baserunner, non-stolen base division: Roberto Alomar
    Best sacrificer: Jeff King of all people
    Best reliever with bases loaded: Bruce Suter

  92. @202

    I really did not expect such an incredible season from Ozuna. Seeing him in the NLDS last year, I didn’t see him as someone who would obviously have such great chemistry with the rest of this team. I didn’t expect him to make me forget all about losing Donaldson.

    I didn’t expect us to do much of anything this year after both Soroka and Folty went down. I didn’t expect D’Arnaud to turn into a beast. I hoped but didn’t expect Swanson to really be a star.

    I was among those who thought AA was a little nuts for stacking the bullpen so deep when it seemed like there were more pressing needs. Now it seems like barely enough, and I’m so glad he did.

  93. @209

    I was thinking Folty, but I looked it up and you’re right. Hanson was worse (.160 OPS for Folty so far to .142 for Tommy). Hanson did have six hits, two walks, four RBIs and three runs scored in 2010, though. Almost even hit .100 (finished at .097).

    That was LOLMets-like by the LA 1B…yikes, dude.

  94. I’ve been told that Marcell Ozuna is a free agent, and Freddie Freeman only has one more year on his contract.

    I believe John Malkovich said it best.

  95. I have to wonder how good the Braves coaching staff is at determining readiness for the big show based on the simulated games. I mentioned it in the previous thread, but their track record with Anderson and now Wilson is pretty good. I just wonder how it compares to a regular minor league season. They could have chosen a lot of pitchers over Wilson but chose him based on something they saw. I’m glad they were right!

  96. I was told that we would lose tonight, and I believed it. I…and they…were wrong. Barring a catastrophe, we’re up 3-1. How about that?!

  97. ARod is amazing with his momentum theory. We scored two runs in the ninth in Game 3, it definitely carries into this game! And we have more momentum for tomorrow! He is a genius.

  98. Two quotes:

    Joaquin Andujar: “There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, ‘You never know.'”

    JonathanF: The playoffs are a crapshoot.

  99. The wind has definitely helped us tonight BTW. They’ve had several balls that just died at the track, though none quite so comically as that.

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