The Los Angeles Dodgers barely squeaked out a victory over the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS, but don’t let the closeness of the outcome or the controversy over the “check swing” lead you to believe anything other than that they are the absolute best team in baseball by a huge margin. And given that their next opponent was the lesser of the two possible teams, the Dodgers ought to be a big favorite here. Are they worth a bet?
Here are our best NLCS value bets from Derek Carty and Adam Burke:
Atlanta Braves (+ 175) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (-210)
The Dodgers have the best offense in baseball not just this year, but in quite a while. It is certainly one of the best in the modern era. They have literally no holes, and have half a lineup comprised of some of the absolute best hitters in the game. They have two top-15 hitters in baseball in Mookie Betts and Corey Seager. They have another in Max Muncy, and even though he’s likely to miss this series, it’s totally fine since they have another pair in the top 25: Trea Turner and Justin Turner. They have another top-40 hitter in Will Smith, who conveys a monster advantage because he’s a catcher. The 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger is widely considered to be their “weak link.”
Outside of the super-elite Freddie Freeman, the Braves don’t have a single top-40 hitter to match up with L.A.’s five (six if you count Muncy). This is certainly a good offense, but the Dodgers’ is otherworldly. The loss of Ronald Acuna was huge, but the trade deadline acquisitions of Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall and Eddie Rosario did go a long way to shoring up this lineup.
As I explained in my NLDS writeup for L.A., their pitching is also among the best in the league. And that’s despite losing three top 25 starters (Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, Dustin May), they make up for it with three more in Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias. A seven-game series will be tougher than the five they just came out of because they don’t have a clear fourth option, but their bullpen is insanely good. That makes a bullpen game (or two) a very viable option for them, perhaps fronted by Mitch White.