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The battle for the National League pennant kicks off Saturday night. The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers will meet in this year's NLCS, a rematch of last year's League Championship Series. The Dodgers erased a 3-1 series deficit en route to a pennant in 2020. They're hoping the road to the World Series won't be quite as stressful this year.

Los Angeles outlasted the rival Giants in five games in the NLDS to punch their ticket to the NLCS. The Braves beat the Brewers in four games to advance.

You can view the full postseason schedule by clicking here. With that throat-clearing out of the way, let's get to the important stuff for Game 1.

How to watch

Date: Saturday, Oct. 16 | Time: 8:07 p.m. ET
Location: Truist Park (Atlanta, Georgia)
TV channel: TBS | Live stream: TBS.com
Odds: LAD -105; ATL -105; O/U: 8.0 (via Caesar's Sportsbook)
Starting pitchers: LHP Max Fried (14-7, 3.02 ERA) vs. RHP Corey Knebel (4-0, 2.45 ERA)

Featured Game | Atlanta Braves vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Preview

Thanks to their Game 4 win over the Brewers, the Braves had a nice three-day break between the NLDS and NLCS. That allowed them to line up their pitching and give their top relievers a breather. Fried was brilliant in his NLDS start (nine strikeouts and three hits in six shutout innings) and marvelous down the stretch in the regular season. He's blossomed into a bona fide ace.

As for the Dodgers, they beat the Giants in Game 5 on Thursday, so they'll have just one day to catch their breath between the NLDS and NLCS, and they spend that day flying across the country and losing three hours. Max Scherzer was expected to start NLCS Game 1 even after his NLDS Game 5 relief appearance. (The Dodgers treated it as his between-starts bullpen). However, Dave Roberts announced that right-hander Corey Knebel will be Game 1's starter. Knebel, 29, was used as an opener in Game 5 of the NLDS. He threw a scoreless first inning against the Giants, facing just four batters with eight of his 13 pitches registering as strikes. 

The Dodgers won the season series 4-2 over the Braves, though they only outscored them 27-23. Five of the six games were decided by no more than two runs. The Braves took two of three from the Dodgers in Atlanta in June. They were swept in Dodger Stadium in late August and early September,

Prediction

There is more to baseball than the starting pitcher, but Fried has been so good the last few months that I have a tough time picking against him. The Dodgers vs. Giants NLDS was exhausting and I only watched it on television. I can't imagine what it was like for the players. I think the Braves take Game 1 thanks to Fried and the Dodgers being mentally wiped after Game 5 and the long flight.

Pick: Braves 5, Dodgers 2

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