Both the Braves and the Dodgers have decided to feature some firepower in their lineups for Game 5. In the case of the Braves, they seem to think they could face Dustin May a few times through the order tonight. In the case of the Dodgers, it may be less about the handiness of “opener” A.J. Minter, and more about who gives them the best chance to score runs as they are on the brink of elimination.
The depth of the Braves lineup has really been on display in the playoffs. In the NLDS, it was Travis d’Arnaud and Dansby Swanson, as a duo, producing three times more run production than the entire Marlins team did over the three game stretch. In the NLCS, the stars have come out to play, as Freddie Freeman, Marcell Ozuna, and Ozzie Albies have all played major roles in the Braves’ three wins. Perhaps tonight, multiple players will step up to support the Braves bullpen with some early offense. Furthermore, Ronald Acuna Jr. is always able to take over a game in an instant.
The Braves decision to start Minter tonight is fairly simple. The Dodgers as a whole are less productive against southpaws, Mookie Betts has really struggled against them in the playoffs, and limiting Corey Seager, Max Muncy, and Cody Bellinger to start the game is ideal. Furthermore, the Braves best relievers are still available to face the top of the Dodgers order in higher leverage situations later in the game. Just as Atlanta had to do over the past two games, the key for the Dodgers tonight is producing against left-handers. The Braves seem poised to utilize Tyler Matzek and Will Smith at some point, with Chris Martin and Mark Melancon also available. If Minter can keep the ball in the park and the other arms have the chance to work with a lead, Atlanta has to like their chances to advance to the World Series.