2021 NLDS Preview
The Atlanta Braves will face the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS this October.
This is notably the first time the two teams will face each other in the postseason. Milwaukee and Atlanta split the regular season series at three wins each.
Led by seven-year manager Craig Counsell, the Brewers finished first place in the NL Central with a 95-67 record. Milwaukee frequently maintained first-place in the division with slight challenges by the Cardinals and Reds throughout the season.
Milwaukee’s pitching staff will be key if it is to win this series. Starters Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes are two of the best in baseball and could each win the Cy Young award. Meanwhile, Josh Hader and Devin Williams are among the best relievers in baseball.
Offensively, the Brewers are decent. Milwaukee had a mere .233 batting average but scored 738 runs, the sixth-most in the NL.
The Brew Crew are in the playoffs for the fourth-straight season. After being one game away from the World Series in 2018, Milwaukee failed to advance beyond the Wild Card in 2019 and 2020.
The Braves, however, had more of a rollercoaster season. Atlanta started off slow, as it was without Mike Soroka and Ronald Acuña Jr. for most of the season. After acquiring Joc Pederson and Jorge Soler at the trade deadline, though, Atlanta turned its season around and won the NL East with a 88-73 record.
This year’s is the fourth division title in a row for manager Brian Snitker and the Braves. Atlanta blew a 3-1 series lead against the Dodgers in the NLCS last season.
Featuring the likes of Freddie Freeman and Austin Riley, Atlanta’s offense will be key if it is to beat Milwaukee. The Braves hit the second-most homeruns in the National League and scored the third-most runs as well.
Atlanta has the edge offensively, while the Brewers have the pitching and defensive edge. The Brewers have home field advantage, with games one, two, and five if necessary slated to be played in Wisconsin.
Prediction: Milwaukee Brewers advance in five games.
As for the second NLDS series, the San Francisco Giants will face the defending World Series champions, the Los Angeles Dodgers in a juggernaut matchup. San Francisco is the top seed, so it will have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Managed by Gabe Kapler, the Giants were among baseball’s most surprising teams in 2021. San Francisco won 107 games and had one of the best records in baseball despite having the Dodgers and Padres in the same division.
Playoff baseball returns to that side of the Bay for the first time since 2016. The Giants notably won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
San Francisco has a largely different roster than those championship years, but the dominance remains the same. Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and new addition Kris Bryant are three names to watch among this deep and talented roster.
After a walk-off win against the Cardinals in the Wild Card game, Los Angeles marches into the Bay Area almost identical to its opponent.
The Dodgers are as stacked as any team in baseball, with an elite lineup featuring Corey Seager, Trea Turner, Mookie Betts, and oh so much more. Their pitching staff is also elite, boasting Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler.
This is among baseball’s most storied rivalries, making this a very exciting series. Both teams are about even strength, as the Dodgers finished only one game behind the Giants for the division crown.
Are the Giants capable of taking down the defending champions? Or, have the Dodgers finally met their match? This series is hard to predict, and it could go either way.
Prediction: San Francisco Giants advance in five games.
Nolan Wick is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.