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2021 MLB National League Championship Series Primer: Betting Preview, Odds and Prediction

The Dodgers and Braves meet in the NLCS for the second straight year. Can the Dodgers triumph again or will Atlanta advance to the World Series?
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We hope you checked your swing (sorry, Wilmer Flores).

The Dodgers took down the Giants in Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday night to set up a NLCS rematch with the Braves. The Dodgers bested the Braves in seven games last year en route to their World Series victory, overcoming a 3-1 series deficit.

Los Angeles enters the series as the World Series favorites, while the Braves are the long shots, according to SI Sportsbook.

The Dodgers are a juggernaut and could be the first team to repeat as World Series champions since the 1999-2000 Yankees. They are massive favorites in this series.

Atlanta, though, has been pesky all year. It rallied from a large division deficit to win the NL East before winning three straight in the NLDS over the favored Brewers after losing Game 1. This team is experienced and is playing well.

Let's break down the data and choose which team to bet on.

  • Game 1 : Saturday, Oct. 16, 8:08 p.m. ET, TBS
  • Game 2 : Sunday, Oct. 17, 7:38 p.m. ET, TBS
  • Game 3 : Tuesday, Oct. 19, 5:08 p.m. ET, TBS
  • Game 4 : Wednesday, Oct. 20, 8:08 p.m ET, TBS
  • Game 5 : Thursday, Oct. 21, 8:08 p.m. ET, TBS (if necessary)
  • Game 6: Saturday, Oct. 23, 5:08 p.m. ET, TBS (if necessary)
  • Game 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, 7:38 p.m. ET, TBS (if necessary)
Oct 14, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer (facing camera) is mobbed by teammates after defeating the San Francisco Giants in game five of the 2021 NLDS at Oracle Park.

DODGERS-BRAVES NLCS ODDS

NLCS Series Winner Odds: Dodgers-220; Braves +182
World Series Winner Odds: Dodgers +125; Braves +575

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Regular season

Dodgers (106-56)
Starter ERA: 2.93 (1st)
Bullpen ERA: 3.16 (2nd)
Runs scored: 830 (4th)

Braves (88-73)
Starter ERA: 3.84 (7th)
Bullpen: 3.97 (10th)
Runs scored: 790 (8th)

Season Series: 4-2 Dodgers

Postseason

Dodgers (4-2)
ERA: 1.44
Batting average: .239

Braves (3-1)
ERA: 1.23
Batting average: .234

Overall Betting Stats

Dodgers run line: 86-82
Dodgers over/under: 73-85-10

Braves run line: 81-84
Braves over/under: 75-81-9

Check out MLB betting odds at SI Sportsbook

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While this series may be a rematch of last year's seven-game affair, there are some notable changes to both sides.

Let's start with the Dodgers, who splurged after last year's championship. Max Scherzer is now headlining a stellar rotation and closing out games on his throw days. Trea Turner mans second base. Cody Bellinger's decline placed him among the worst players in baseball this year, although he tallied the game-winning hit Tuesday.

But make no mistake: The Dodgers are loaded and have few weaknesses.

They can dominate you with their rotation featuring Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias. Their bullpen is lights out and filled with high-velocity pitchers. The offense, even without Max Muncy, can explode at any moment.

Teams have to play an amazing brand of baseball to beat Los Angeles and even that might not be enough. The Cardinals and Giants both pitched well and had timely hits against the Dodgers, but even that proved not to be enough.

charlie-morton-braves

Atlanta is not remotely close to being a juggernaut, but the Braves have somehow made it back after retooling midseason to bolster a struggling roster.

Ronald Acuna Jr. is out with a torn ACL. Marcell Ozuna is on administrative leave following his arrest on domestic violence charges. Mike Soroka did not pitch this year.

Atlanta GM Alex Anthopoulos went for it instead of folding, acquiring Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario and Richard Rodriguez, among others.

Those trades helped galvanize a middling Atlanta team, which received sensational seasons from infielders Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies. Reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman produced his usual strong season.

Charlie Morton and Ian Anderson anchored the rotation, while Ian Anderson experienced ups and downs in his sophomore year.

Atlanta's bullpen can be shaky at times with Will Closer struggling for stretches, but the bullpen did its job against the Brewers. A seven-game series works against Atlanta due to its inconsistent bullpen and lack of a true fourth starting pitcher.

Though this series might be a mismatch on paper, the interesting element is that the Braves have played the Dodgers tough the last two seasons.

Atlanta stormed to a 3-1 series lead last year and perhaps would have played the Rays in the World Series if not for a base running blunder by Ozuna.

The Dodgers won four of six games this year, but the Braves won the first series in Atlanta, and held late leads in two games before ultimately being swept in Los Angeles. Morton and Game 1 starter Max Fried both pitched well in those series.

Scherzer is just 10-9 with a 3.88 career ERA against the Braves, though Urias has won four straight decisions against Atlanta dating back to the NLCS.

THE PICK: Dodgers in 6

The Dodgers are the better team. They just beat a 107-win rival. They can dominate the game in every facet. They've also ended Atlanta's season three times in the past eight seasons, including twice in the last three campaigns.

Atlanta had a nice season and it's an accomplishment to have made it this far, but the Braves aren't nearly as deep in any facet. It doesn't help that Jorge Solder could miss the entire series after testing positive for COVID-19.

Take the heavy odds on the Dodgers, although the under may be in play a few times since both teams are below .500 in that regard.

More Betting & MLB:

MLB World Series & Pennants Futures Odds
ALCS Betting Preview
Dodgers Close Out Giants In Game 5
Braves Top Brewers To Advance to NLCS
ALCS Roundtable Picks

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