The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers will play the decisive Game 7 of their National League Championship Series on Sunday at Globe Life Field (here's how to watch). The winner will claim the pennant and advance to face the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2020 World Series.
As with its American League counterpart, the NLCS has seen one team storm back from a severe disadvantage. The Dodgers were down 3-1 entering Game 5, yet have rallied to win consecutive elimination games. A Dodgers win on Sunday would earn them a trip to their third World Series in four years. Conversely, a Braves win will send them to their first Fall Classic since 1999.
With Game 7 just hours away, allow us to provide you with the tale of the tape, beginning with the night's expected pitching matchup and extending to the bullpens and the hot bats.
Anderson vs. May to start, then Gonsolin
The Dodgers announced their starting pitcher just hours before first pitch, with that starter being Dustin May. Yes, the same Dustin May who started Game 5. The expectation is that May will work an inning, maybe two, before giving way to a Game 2 rematch -- or, in other words, Ian Anderson taking on Tony Gonsolin. Anderson prevailed in their first encounter, holding the Dodgers to no runs on one hit and five walks over four innings. Gonsolin, for his part, gave up five runs on three hits and three walks in 4 1/3 frames.
Both starters will be hoping for better results in Game 7.
Anderson, 22, does most of his work with three pitches: a mid-90s fastball and a changeup and a curveball that each generated whiffs on nearly 40 percent of the swings taken against them. While he's still in the infancy of his big-league career, he's demonstrated the ability to limit contact and to accumulate groundouts (54 percent during the regular season).
Gonsolin, 26, made several mechanical tweaks over the winter that have permitted him to throw strikes at a greater frequency. He too throws three pitches more than 10 percent of the time: a 95-mph fastball, a mid-80s splitter, and an upper-80s slider. Both secondary pitches had whiff rates exceeding 40 percent. It's worth noting that Gonsolin's fastball is the only pitch he threw within the zone more than 40 percent of the time, suggesting it's vital for him to get chases.
State of the bullpens
Game 7 is, of course, an all-hands situation. Just about everyone on both pitching staffs is, at least in theory, available to pitch if necessary. That doesn't preclude some individuals from having a better workload situation than others.
The Braves enter Game 7 in a good position in that regard. Chris Martin and Darren O'Day were the only relievers who worked Game 6, and O'Day threw just a handful of pitches. Closer Mark Melancon hasn't thrown in five days, while all of Atlanta's other key relievers -- Will Smith, Tyler Matzek, Shane Greene -- are coming off a day of rest. The only other individual whose availability is up in the air is A.J. Minter, the lefty who "opened" Game 6 and threw 42 pitches.
It makes sense that the Dodgers aren't as well-positioned: they're the ones who have been fighting from underneath, after all. Closer Kenley Jansen and setup men Pedro Baez and Blake Treinen have each thrown on consecutive days; Baez has thrown in four of the last five games, making him the most worked reliever on the staff. All three figure to be available. Everyone else is coming off at least a day of rest, including, who else, Game 5 starter Clayton Kershaw.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has nine hits (five of them for extra bases) in 22 at-bats this series, giving him an absurd batting line of .409/.480/.818. Second baseman Ozzie Albies (.360/.346/.640) and outfielder Marcell Ozuna (.280/.333/.600) are the other Braves with an OPS of .900 or better this series.
As for the Dodgers, shortstop Corey Seager has homered five times in six games to bring his line to .375/.400/1.083. Second baseman Max Muncy (1.093), and outfielder Joc Pederson (.974) are the other Dodgers with OPS over .900.