On paper, the matchup between the Braves’ Bryse Wilson and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw heavily favored LA. Sure, Kershaw has been dealing with some back spasms, but we are still dealing with arguably the best pitcher of the last decade plus versus Bryse who the Braves were just crossing their fingers and hoping he would make it through at least four innings. Well, that is why they play the game as Bryse shoved for six innings while the Braves chased Kershaw and then jumped on the Dodgers bullpen in route to a 10-2 win that has the Braves just one win away from the World Series. Here are four takeaways from one of the more consequential games in recent Braves history.
Bryse Wilson put the Braves in fantastic position in more ways than one
Lets be clear...the biggest contribution that Bryse Wilson gave to the Braves was that he was a huge reason why the Braves have a 3-1 series lead instead of the series being tied 2-2 which would have been nightmare fuel for Braves fans after being up 2-0. However, it is hard to overstate how big it was that he also went six innings. His start allowed the Braves to conserve some bullpen arms for what was always going to be a bullpen game in Game 5 and then turn to Max Fried on normal rest after that if need be. Instead of things being a borderline disaster in Game 5 from a pitching perspective for Atlanta, Bryse’s start has them in a strong position over a Dodgers team that is looking for answers.
Freddie Freeman should be the NL MVP and has shown that in this series
Freddie Freeman is the frontrunner for the National League MVP award. Sure, guys like Mookie Betts and Fernando Tatis Jr. have legitimate cases and had great seasons of their own, but it has been pretty clear for a while that Freddie is the favorite for the award. After another multi-hit game including a double and that was with some bad BABIP luck on his side, Freddie has an OPS of 1.458 in the NLCS against the Dodgers to go along with some pretty important saves over at first base as well. Even better, he has done so against one of his chief rivals for the end of season hardware.
Marcell Ozuna and the Braves need to figure out a longer term deal
Have a night, Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna has certainly had some moments in the 2020 postseason, but up until tonight...he hadn’t had one of those games where he completely took over and dominated. Well, he did that in Game Four with a 4-5 performance with a pair of homers in a game that the Braves absolutely needed to win. The DH seems likely to stay in the National League and if that holds true, the Braves need to make a real good faith effort to keep Ozuna in the fold. He seems to fit in great with this group of guys, he is a ready made solution to the question of who to DH, and most importantly...the guy just flat out mashes and if Freddie wasn’t having the season he is having, we would be talking about Ozuna’s MVP chances.
Tyler Matzek continues to be invaluable to the Braves’ bullpen
We talk a lot about the various bullpen arms at the Braves’ disposal and when to use which guy and why, but can we talk a bit more about how the Braves basically found Tyler Matzek in the recycling bin this past offseason and has turned into one of the teams most reliable options out of the bullpen? The story has been incredible and yet again, with this Dodgers lineup full of dangerous lefties, Matzek threw yet another scoreless inning of relief. If you are looking for lowkey guys who have been instrumental in the Braves’ playoff run so far....Matzek should be at or near the top of the list.