2021 NLCS Game 1 Preview: Corey Knebel Reprises Role Of Opener, Albert Pujols In Dodgers Lineup
Albert Pujols
Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports

For the second consecutive year, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves are meeting in the National League Championship Series as they battle for a trip to the World Series.

The Dodgers have won 110 games to get to this point, with 106 coming during the regular season. Meanwhile, the Braves have 91 wins, with 88 of them in the regular season.

Despite the Dodgers winning 18 more regular-season games, the Braves have home-field advantage in the series because they won the NL East while the Dodgers advanced through the Wild Card Game.

This will be the fifth time the clubs have met in the postseason and L.A. has won the previous three matchups, including last season’s historic comeback where they won three straight after being down 3-1 in the NLCS.

The Dodgers also beat the Braves in 2013 and 2018. Atlanta won the first playoff meeting between the two teams in 1996.

They have met six times this season with the Dodgers winning four of the games.

The Dodgers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the Wild Card Game and the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS to get to this point. The Braves defeated the Milwaukee Brewers to advance past the NLDS.

Max Scherzer was in line to start Game 1 of the NLCS, but needing to close out the Giants has pushed him back.

In his place the Dodgers again turn to Corey Knebel as an opener. Knebel joins Clayton Kershaw as the only pitchers in Dodgers franchise history to start two consecutive postseason games.

The Braves are hitting .245/.321/.440 with a 100 wRC+ against right-handers and overall they are batting .244/.319/.435 with a 98 wRC+.

While the Braves still have a powerful lineup, they have been without their best player, Ronald Acuña Jr., who they lost to a season-ending ACL injury in July. They made multiple acquisitions before the trade deadline, which included Joc Pederson, to try to fill the void left by Acuña Jr.

Max Fried takes the ball for Atlanta in Game 1.

In 165.2 innings, the southpaw has pitched to a 3.04 ERA and 3.31 FIP while striking out 23.7% of hitters and walking 6.1%.

The 27-year-old has a great curveball that he relies on, which could present a problem for a Dodgers lineup that is 21st in the league against curves. He faced the Dodgers twice this season and allowed three runs in 12 innings of work.

The Dodgers are hitting .243/.319/.439 with a 104 wRC+ against left-handers.

Max Muncy was not added to the NLCS roster, which is a factor in Albert Pujols being in the lineup at first base.

Dodgers lineup

RF: Mookie Betts
2B: Trea Turner
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
C: Will Smith
1B: Albert Pujols
LF: AJ Pollock
CF: Chris Taylor
P: Corey Knebel

Braves lineup

LF: Eddie Rosario
1B: Freddie Freeman
2B: Ozzie Albies
3B: Austin Riley
RF: Joc Pedeson
CF: Adam Duvall
C: Travis d’Arnaud
SS: Dansby Swanson
P: Max Fried

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