Kris Medlan and Clayton Kershaw will get the starting nods for the Braves and Dodgers in Game 1.Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves begins tonight from Turner Field (8:37 ET/ESPN Radio).
The only other postseason meeting between these clubs was in the 1996 NLDS, which the Braves won 3-0.
Here are a few storylines to watch.
1. The Braves won the season series 5-2 and come into postseason play having won three of their last four overall. Atlanta has won 25 of its last 35 home games, but has not fared so well at Turner Field in the postseason lately.
Dodgers at Braves
Head-to-Head This Season
Atlanta has lost three straight and 16 of its last 21 postseason games played in front of its home crowd, dating back to 1999.
The Dodgers clinched a playoff berth on Sept. 19. That might explain why they went 4-9 to finish the season (including losses in four of their last five games).
Los Angeles was the first team to win a division title after being at least 12 games under .500 at any point in the season since the 1989 Toronto Blue Jays.
In the playoffs, the Dodgers have lost three straight and 26 of their last 36 road games.
2. Braves starter Kris Medlen enters the postseason on a roll, going 5-0 with a 0.84 ERA in his last six starts.
Kris Medlen Starts, This Season
He made two excellent starts against the Dodgers early in the season, allowing one run and seven hits in 13⅔ innings pitched.
3. One of the leading candidates for the National League Cy Young Award, left-hander Clayton Kershaw, will pitch for the Dodgers.
The Braves went an NL-best 25-16 in games in which the opposing starter was left-handed.
Kershaw has not recorded a decision in four career starts vs. the Braves, but does have a 2.45 ERA (he has not faced them since Sept. 4, 2011).
For the season, Kershaw sported a league-low 1.83 ERA. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the first postseason start by the ERA champion has not been stellar recently.
There have been 13 ERA-title winners to start a postseason game since 1999, going a combined 2-8 with a 4.29 ERA in those starts. The only two with a win were Johan Santana in 2004 for the Minnesota Twins and Jason Schmidt in 2003 for the San Francisco Giants.
4. Matchups to watch in this game include these two:
Hanley Ramirez vs.Kris Medlen: Ramirez is the only player on the Dodgers roster who has homered against Medlen. He’s 5-for-9 against him, though the two haven’t faced each other since the 2010 season.
Justin Upton vs. Clayton Kershaw: Upton and Kershaw did not face each other during the 2013 season, but they have plenty of matchup experience from Upton’s time with the Diamondbacks.
Upton is 3-for-29 with nine strikeouts against Kershaw, though he does have a single, double and triple in his last 11 at-bats against him.
5. Misc Notes
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Braves’ Justin and B.J. Upton will be the first set of brothers to play in a postseason game as teammates since the Molinas (Jose and Bengie) did so for the Angels in 2005.
The only pair of brothers to play in a playoff game for the Braves was Tommie and Hank Aaron in 1969. Both played in the second game of a three-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets in the NLCS.
* Yasiel Puig went 8-for-16 with two home runs and five RBIs in four games against the Braves this season.
* Puig’s teammate, Adrian Gonzalez, however, didn’t have as much luck, hitting only .130 (3-for-23) in seven games against Atlanta in 2013.