On paper, Los Angeles and Atlanta were too strong for San Diego and Miami. Numbers and logic don't always prevail in the end. This time, yes.
But to say that two sweeps were expected would be an overstatement. Neither the Padres nor the Marlins could take even one game at the end of these best-of-five series. The Dodgers (43-17) and the Braves (35-25) will therefore face each other in the National League championship final, with a ticket to the World Series at stake.
THE reaches for the 14 th time the championship of the National, joining the St. Louis Cardinals who held that record until only.
“The records are cool, the championships are better,” said third baseman Justin Turner after his team's victory over the Padres. Again this year very legitimate contenders for top honors, the Dodgers had failed in extremis in 2017 and 2018.
On the menu, therefore, a duel between two teams that have not met in the regular season. And, more importantly, who have been dominant at the mound since the start of the playoffs.
In the case of the Braves, the word is weak. In five games - all wins - Atlanta has allowed just five points… all in the same game, the first of the second round against the Marlins. This means that they have signed four shutouts!
PHOTO DAVID J. PHILLIP, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Kyle Wright and the Atlanta Braves pitchers have allowed their opponents just five points in five games since the start of Major League Baseball's playoffs.
Some other impressive data: They allowed just one homerun, limited the opponent to a .169 batting average, and for every walked goal they recorded 6.56 strikeouts! In comparison, in the regular season, the Cleveland Indians had been the strongest majors in this regard with 3.96 strikeouts per free pass.
But let's put a damper on these exceptional figures. Because the Braves faced the Cincinnati Reds and the Miami Marlins in these five postseason games. Nothing too intimidating. Especially in comparison to what's to come in this best-of-seven championship series: the Dodgers batting roster.
The Dodgers who have hit the most major home runs this season, followed by the Braves. Who also scored the most points… once again followed by the Braves.
And LA has maintained this infernal offensive pace in the playoffs so far, enthroned in all the main collective statistics in the National, except for the circuits.
Individually, Mookie Betts does not falter (, 368, 5 doubles, 4 RBIs). Cody Bellinger (, 316, 1 homer, 5 RBIs), Corey Seager (1 homerun, 4 RBIs) and Will Smith (, 294, 4 RBIs) also have their feet on the ground. The threat can come from anywhere.
PHOTO TIM HEITMAN, USA TODAY SPORTS
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
On the Atlanta side, receiver Travis d'Arnaud, to name just one, is on fire. In five games, two homers and seven RBIs.
In summary, therefore, the Braves' ability to respond to the power of the Dodgers should not be underestimated. But while the Atlanta pitching staff showed up in those playoffs against lesser offensive lineups, the Dodgers have been the best of the majors this season and have continued in that vein ever since.
The same was said about the Padres: big order for the Braves hitters.
So who will prevail this time: hitters or pitchers? “ The name of the game is pitching”, we often hear. Difficult to find a better scenario to demonstrate it than during this series which will start on Monday.
Fans in the flesh
There will be people in the stands at Globe Life Field in Arlington for this National League Championship. Real people.
About 11,500 tickets were offered for each game, just over a quarter of the 40,518 seats at the brand new Texas Rangers stadium.
Their cost? From 40 to 250 $ US per unit. For the World Series, their value will climb to $ 75 to $ 450 a ticket, cheaper than what had to be paid in recent years.
These series are being played in neutral territory for the first time, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.