2020 NLCS: Dave Roberts Impressed By Braves’ Lineup, Pitching

During the second half of the 2020 season, the San Diego Padres were identified by most as the biggest threat to the Los Angeles Dodgers in not only the National League West but a potential postseason matchup as well.

L.A. went on to finish six games ahead of San Diego, clinching an eighth consecutive division title. They then swept the Padres in the NL Division Series. Now back in the NL Championship Series a fourth time in the past five years, the Dodgers meet the red-hot Atlanta Braves.

The Dodgers and Braves are only teams who have yet to lose this postseason. Their offensive success during the regular season closely mirrors that of the Dodgers and Padres. Atlanta finished 35-25, the third-best record in the NL and only two games back of San Diego.

“You look at their offense, it’s a very balanced offense. They can slug you, they’re aggressive on the bases, they catch the baseball defensively, they can pitch and they’ve got a strong bullpen,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

“Max Fried has really come on to be one of the elite pitchers in baseball. Ian Anderson, we haven’t seen him at all. I know it’s really good velocity but we just don’t have a lot of familiarity with him. I think their bullpen is a strength, and we’re familiar with some of these guys, but those guys collectively are very good and have been very successful.

“They just do a good job preventing runs. They’ve done it better than anybody this year in the postseason, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. They check a lot of boxes. It’s going to be a fun series.”

During the regular season the Braves ranked third with a 121 wRC+, which was bested only by the Dodgers and New York Mets tying for the top spot at 122 wRC+. Atlanta’s .355 wOBA edged the Dodgers’ .350 for best in baseball, and they were second to L.A. (118) with 103 home runs.

“No. 1 is they slug. They hit everything, so we’ve got to execute and make good pitches,” Roberts said. “It’s an aggressive offense in the box, on the bases. There’s a lot of young athleticism on both sides and they’ve also got the veteran guys.”

Battle between Dodgers’, Braves’ strengths

The Dodgers have a rotation and bullpen full of flamethrowers, but the Braves have proven to be among the top teams in handling velocity.

“Nowadays we always talk about timing a bullet. You’ve still got to make quality pitches. Regardless if it’s 97 (mph) or 101, if it’s not located, guys are going to square it up,” Roberts said.

“I think there’s a sequencing component and a quality of the fastball location component.”

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