For the first time since 2004, both League Championship Series headed to a Game Seven after Walker Buehler stifled the Atlanta Braves en route to a 3-1 Los Angeles Dodgers win. All of the Dodgers’ scoring came in the first thanks to solo home runs by Corey Seager and Justin Turner and an RBI single by Cody Bellinger.
The Dodgers, who were down 3-1 in the series, will most likely send either Julio Urias or Tony Gonsolin to the mound in Game Seven, while the Braves will counter with 22-year-old rookie, Ian Anderson. In what should be an exciting Game Seven, here are three key numbers that could decide who punches their ticket to the World Series.
Atlanta Braves-Los Angeles Dodgers Game Seven: Three Key Numbers
15 2/3: Number of Scoreless Postseason Innings by Ian Anderson
Ian Anderson was nothing short of exceptional in the regular season as he posted a 1.95 ERA with 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He has carried this excellence into the postseason as he has yet to surrender an earned run. In the Wild Card round against the Cincinnati Reds, Anderson was dominant, pitching six innings and allowing just two hits. Then, in the NLDS, he pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing three hits, and striking out eight. Walking only three batters in his first two starts, Anderson pounded the strike zone throwing strikes 65.3% of the time.
Heading into Game Two of the NLCS, Anderson had walked a measly 3.9 batters per nine innings in the regular season. However, he walked five batters in four innings in game two of the NLCS, throwing just 56.5% strikes. But, the young right-hander did not allow a run in his four-inning no-decision, becoming the second pitcher to open a postseason career with three consecutive four scoreless inning starts. In Game Seven, Anderson might not have too long of a leash, but if he continues his scoreless streak, the Braves will be in a prime position to move onto the World Series.
71.4% vs. 1: Percentage of Dodger Runs via the HR in NLCS vs. HR Allowed by Ian Anderson in 2020
The Dodgers have been reliant on the home run ball in the NLCS as 71.4% of their runs have come via the long ball. To counter this, Anderson has allowed just one home run all season, amounting to a minuscule 0.19 home runs per nine innings. This matchup will be crucial in deciding who wins the pennant. The Braves must contain Corey Seager, who has torched the Braves with five home runs in the NLCS, including two in Game Five. Anderson must be careful, especially early in the game, to not become over-amped leading to a loss of command of his mid 90s fastball.
If the Dodgers can get ahead with home runs early in the game, much like they did in game six, it could give their young starter, whether that be Gonsolin or Urias, confidence as well as forcing the Braves to play from behind throughout the game.
5: Number of Consecutive Winner-take-all Losses by the Atlanta Braves
In a painful stat for many Braves fans, the Braves have not inspired much confidence in occasions like Sunday Night: a winner-take-all game. The Braves’ last winner-take-all victory was in the 1996 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. Since then, the Braves lost Game Five’s in the NLDS for three consecutive years (2002-2004), lost the infamous “Infield Fly Rule” wild-card game against the Cardinals, and were destroyed in a ten-run first inning against the Cardinals last season. On the other hand, despite falling to the Washington Nationals in devastating fashion last season, the Dodgers won Game Seven of the 2018 NLCS against the Milwaukee Brewers to punch their second consecutive World Series appearance.
The Braves have yet another opportunity to correct this narrative Sunday Night if they can defeat the Dodgers at Globe Life Field.
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