The Dodgers prevailed over the Braves by a score of 6-0 in Dodger Stadium in Game 1 of the NLDS. They did so thanks to a dominating performance by surprise starter Hyun-Jin Ryu and three home runs. As such, the Dodgers now have a 1-0 lead in this best-of-five series.
Here’s what you need to know to watch Braves vs. Dodgers Game 1:
The decision to start Ryu was a wise one.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts raised some eyebrows when he tabbed right-hander Hyun-jin Ryu and not Clayton Kershaw as the Game 1 starter. Ryu was dominant when healthy in 2018 — 1.97 ERA and a 5.93 K/BB ratio in 15 starts — but the decision to pass over Kershaw remains notable. Well, Ryu in Game 1 justified the decision and then some …
That’s some suffocating work (it’s also the first time Ryu has thrown 100 or more pitches in a start since August of 2017), and that’s in large measure why the Dodgers won their NLDS opener. The decision to go with Ryu in the opener also means that, after Kershaw goes in Game 2, he can still go on full rest in a potential Game 5 against Atlanta. Meantime, it’s entirely possible that Ryu is the best starting pitcher the Dodgers have right now.
Joc, Muncy delivered
L.A. outfielder Joc Pederson enjoyed one of his strongest regular seasons in 2018, as he cracked 25 homers in 395 at-bats and also put up an OPS+ of 125. He kept it going in Game 1 against the Braves …
The very next inning, it was Max Muncy’s turn to punish Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz …
Muncy on a rate basis has been one of the most productive hitters in the NL this season (35 home runs and a 161 OPS+ in 481 plate appearances). You’ll also note that both of these homers came from left-handed batters in platoon-advantaged situations.
No roster is built for the platoon quite like the Dodgers. In the NLDS, they’re carrying a five-man bench, and that allows Roberts to platoon fully half of his non-pitcher lineup spots. That’s a big edge, to say the least, and it was apparent in the early innings of Game 1.
Folty had his worst start of 2018
The 26-year-old Foltynewicz emerged as the Braves’ ace this season, but that wasn’t the case in Game 1. Folty lasted just two innings, and over that brief span he allowed four runs on three hits. While he struck out five, he also walked three and coughed up the two homers you saw above. That made for his shortest outing of 2018 by a wide margin (his shortest had been 4 2/3, which he did twice during the regular season, and that’s just the eighth time this year he’s allowed more than three runs in a start. In terms of Game Score, which a quick-and-dirty Bill James metric that measures a pitcher’s dominance or lack thereof in a given start (50 is average and anything 90 or higher is an absolute gem), Foltynewicz’s Game 1 mark of 21 is his lowest of 2018. Not a good time to soul the linens in such a manner.
In possibly related matters, here’s Folty standing athwart baseball superstition not long before Muncy took him deep:
Per basic win expectancy, Pederson’s first-inning homer gave the Dodgers a 65.3 percent chance of winning Game 1. After that it didn’t get below 61.5 percent. Then in the second, Muncy’s homer, which gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead, pushed their chances of winning all the way up to 88.3 percent. After the third inning, it got above 90 percent for good, and Enrique Hernandez’ssixth inning bomb off Brad Brach pushed it close to 100 percent. No real excitement in this one.
The Dodgers are now heavy favorites in the NLDS
In a best-of-five postseason series in MLB, the team that wins Game 1 has gone on to take the series 71.7 percent of the time. The team that wins Game 1 at home, as the Dodgers did on Thursday, has gone on to win the series 72.3 percent of the time. History suggests the Dodgers are in a very good spot, which is what you’d expect.
Up next: NLDS Game 2
The same two teams will be back at it in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium on Friday. Anibal Sanchez will oppose Kershaw, and first pitch is scheduled for 9:37 p.m. ET. FS1 will broadcast Game 2.
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