The Atlanta Braves will take on the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday in Game 1 of the 2021 NLCS, and for the second time in a row during these 2021 MLB playoffs, the Dodgers have made a surprising pitching decision. The Dodgers opened with Corey Knebel after it was originally believed that Julio Urias would start Game 5 of the 2021 NLDS against the Giants and eventually used ace Max Scherzer to close the game out. It was widely believed Scherzer would start Game 1, but around six hours before first pitch they announced that Knebel would open the game again.

The Braves are going the more traditional route, making it clear that Max Fried would be taking the bump with first pitch scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET. Caesars Sportsbook lists the game as a pick'em with both teams at -105 (risk $105 to win $100) on the money line in the latest Dodgers vs. Braves odds, while the over-under is at eight runs. Before making any Braves vs. Dodgers picks, check out what SportsLine's No. 1 MLB expert John Bollman has to say.

Bollman combines MLB front-office experience with a deep statistical background. Bollman, who has a master's degree in biostatistics, worked in the Toronto Blue Jays' analytics department in 2018, focusing on high-performance sports science and player development.

In his last 293 MLB money-line picks, Bollman has gone 170-123, returning more than $5,200 to $100 bettors. Anyone who has followed his MLB picks has seen huge returns.

Now, Bollman has dialed in on Dodgers vs. Braves and released his coveted 2021 NLCS picks and predictions. You can visit SportsLine now to see Bollman's NLCS picks. Here are the MLB odds and betting lines for Braves vs. Dodgers:

  • Dodgers vs. Braves money line: Dodgers -105, Braves -105
  • Dodgers vs. Braves over-under: 8 runs
  • Dodgers vs. Braves run line: Dodgers -1.5 (+150)
  • LAD: The Dodgers are 50-34 in 2021 road games
  • ATL: The Braves are 44-38 In home games this season
Featured Game | Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Why you should back the Dodgers

Los Angeles led all of Major League Baseball in run differential (+269) this season, and the Dodgers just unseated the team with the best win-loss record in San Francisco. That speaks to the overall dominance of the Dodgers, with Los Angeles leading the National League in both runs scored (830) and runs allowed (561) this season. Offensively, the Dodgers are patient, leading the league with 613 walks, and they rank in the top five in home runs, on-base percentage, batting average and slugging percentage. Los Angeles has star power, headlined by Mookie Betts and Trea Turner, and the Dodgers had seven starters with at least an .832 OPS this season. 

Los Angeles will led the league with a 3.01 ERA and allowed fewer hits than any NL team. That run prevention extended to the bullpen, with the Dodgers posting a 3.16 ERA with a reliever on the mound. The bullpen induced a ground ball 47.3 percent of the time, No. 2 in the NL, and the Dodgers relievers struck out 9.64 batters per nine innings this season. 

Why you should back the Braves

The Braves defeated the Brewers in four games during their NLDS series and pitching was a huge part of that success. The Brewers scored just six runs combined in the four games, with four of those runs coming in Game 4, which Atlanta won 5-4. Fried twirled six scoreless innings and struck out nine during a 3-0 win in Game 2.

Meanwhile, Freddie Freeman and Joc Pederson have led the charge for the Atlanta offense. Freeman went 4-for-13 with a home run and two RBIs and had a 1.086 OPS while Pederson, a former Dodgers player, went 3-for-7 with two home runs with five RBIs. With the Dodgers sending Knebel out, and possibly using Tony Gonsolin for several innings, having two streaking lefties could give the Braves the edge.

How to make Braves vs. Dodgers ALCS picks

Bollman is leaning under on the run total and has discovered a critical X-factor that has him jumping all over one side of the money line. He's sharing that pick and the rest of his MLB playoffs predictions only at SportsLine.

So who wins Dodgers vs. Braves in Game 1 of the 2021 National League Championship Series? And what critical X-factor makes one side of the money line a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the money line to jump on, all from the MLB expert who's brought in more than $5,200 to $100 players, and find out.