2021 NLCS Game 1 Predictions | Dodgers vs Braves Best Bets & Projections

Last Updated: Oct 16, 2021

It seems only fitting that the Los Angeles Dodgers ended up winning the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants in five games, in the ninth inning. Both teams deserved to make it into the NLCS and beyond, but with rules in place for seeding it just didn’t work out that way.

The Dodgers aren’t going to be nearly as well rested as the Atlanta Braves. Not only do the 88-win Braves get home-field advantage, they’ve also been waiting in the wings, after they needed just four games against the Brewers to move on to the NLCS.

With tons of great pitching, and timely hitting for both teams, which will get out to an early 1-0 lead in the NLCS between the Dodgers and the Braves?

Dodgers vs Braves NLCS Game 1 Prediction

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Atlanta Braves, October 16, 8:08 PM ET on TBS

Probable Starting Pitchers:

  • Max Scherzer, Dodgers (15-4, 2.46 ERA)
  • Max Fried, Braves (14-7, 3.04 ERA)

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It’s a battle of Max’s in Game 1. While Max Scherzer hasn’t been confirmed as the starter, there are multiple reports that he will get the start for Game 1, two days after closing out the NLDS with his first save.

In that game, Scherzer threw 13 pitches against four batters. He should be good to go five or six innings in this game for the Dodgers. His last start was on Monday, October 11, where he threw 110 pitches in seven innings.

In that start against the Giants Scherzer allowed just three hits and one run and racked up 10 strikeouts. This was the Scherzer we’ve been waiting for in the playoffs and he delivered.

Scherzer has plenty of history going up against this Atlanta Braves lineup from his time in Washington. The roster for the Braves has a .678 OPS with 36 hits in 183 at-bats. The Braves may be hitting Scherzer at a .261 OBA, but if you go down the projected lineup for Atlanta they have struggled badly against the right-hander.

Joc Pederson has gone 2-for-16 and should be batting leadoff. Meanwhile, Ozzie Albies is 4-for-25, and Freddie Freeman is just 11-for-47 against the three-time Cy Young Award winner. That’s not much success for the Braves lineup against Scherzer but there’s always a chance as he’s allowed eight home runs and 19 extra base hits in those 36 hits allowed.

Fried on the other hand, has dominated for the Braves, putting together 13 quality starts in his last 14 starts for Atlanta in the second-half of the season and postseason. He’s on an absolute tear and last pitched on Saturday, holding Milwaukee to no runs on three hits in six innings with nine strikeouts.

The Dodgers roster has struggled even more against Fried in comparison to Atlanta against Scherzer. The Dodgers have just a .189 average and .555 OPS in their careers against Fried. But only Trea Turner has faced him at a big enough sample size, due to his time in Washington. Turner is 7-for-21 with a double and a home run against Fried for his career.

Fried is also inducing 65.1 percent ground balls in the last 30 days while limiting line drives to 14 percent. Therefore, I’ll be riding the Braves in the first game of the NLCS, as the home team.

Dodgers vs Braves NLCS Game 1 Pick: Braves 3, Dodgers 1

Max Fried, Atlanta Braves SP, pitches during a September 2021 start

Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried could give the Dodgers some real issues in Game 1. (Image: USA TODAY Sports)

Dodgers vs Braves NLCS Game 1 Best Bets

Best Bet: Braves (+112) at FanDuel

Wager: 1 Unit

In this spot, with Fried throwing 13 quality starts in his last 14 games, I have no problem taking the Braves as a slight underdog at home. Scherzer is coming off a relief inning a couple of days ago and that could throw off his preparation for this start, and perhaps fatigue even sets in here.

Scherzer is inducing just 29.6 percent ground balls and giving up 22.2 percent line drives in the last 30 days. Meanwhile, the Braves are hitting just 36 percent ground balls and 25.5 percent line drives against righties. Atlanta’s lineup has a legitimate chance to send a couple balls over the fence against Scherzer.

Best Bet: Under 8.5 (-115) at FanDuel

Wager: 1.15 Units

The Dodgers profile better against lefties this season but going up against the top left-handed pitcher in baseball is no easy task. Despite a .212 ISO, wOBA of .352 and just 11.2 percent strikeouts to lefties in the last 30 days, Fried should be able to induce plenty of ground balls and produce timely strikeouts if runners are on base to strand them.

Meanwhile, if Scherzer doesn’t have it early, the bullpen will get to work. This game will be managed to keep the game tight. I really don’t believe either team can score four runs in this game.

Best Bet: Joc Pederson to hit a Home Run (+470) at FanDuel

Wager: .5 Units

We hit on Rowdy Tellez in Game 4 of the NLDS and now we’ll look to Joc Pederson in the first game of the NLCS. Pederson has a .591 ISO and wOBA of .539 in his last 24 plate appearances against righties. While he’s only 2-for-16 against Scherzer, he does have a double with one of those hits.

Either way, Pederson has been clutch throughout this postseason and there would be no better moment for a huge bomb than in the first game of the NLCS.


Jason Radowitz

Jason Radowitz is a jack of all trades when it comes to writing sports. Jason writes and bets the MLB, NFL, NBA, NCAAF, and NCAAB when the sports are in season. Currently, he's a Writer and Betting Analyst for The Game Day providing daily content in the MLB. Earlier in his sports career, Jason was a graduate assistant for the University of Hartford Men's Basketball team using analytics and numbers to help put together the winningest season in program history. With his articles, you will be sure to get an analytical approach.

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