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Max Fried, Braves look to punch their ticket to the World Series in Game 5

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Atlanta will have their ace on the mound Thursday as they try to close out the Dodgers.

Championship Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game One Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Coming off of a thrilling Game 4 win, the Atlanta Braves are just one victory away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 1999. Six relievers held the Dodgers’ offense in check while the Braves homered four times, including two by Eddie Rosario in a 9-2 win. With the win, they take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series and need just one more victory over the next three games to bring Los Angeles’ season to an end.

This of course is a familiar position for Atlanta who was also up 3-1 in last year’s NLCS. Things are a bit different this time around. They have Max Fried lined up for Game 5 while the Dodgers will be forced to lean on a bullpen that has been taxed heavily this offseason. Game 6 and 7 of the series will be back at Truist Park in Atlanta where the Braves would presumedly have Ian Anderson and Charlie Morton lined up to start. If the series does return to Atlanta, the Braves would be looking at Max Scherzer and Walker Buehler which is even more reason to finish this thing off Thursday.

The Braves are in a good position but they need to take advantage and slam the door. Fried has been solid in his two postseason appearances. He allowed just three hits over six shutout innings in Game 2 of the NLDS. He was Atlanta’s starter for Game 1 against the Dodgers and allowed eight hits and two runs over six innings.

Atlanta needs its offense to continue their recent trend. Eddie Rosario had four hits in Game 4 and is now 10-for-17 in the series. Adam Duvall hit his first postseason home run and drove in two more runs. Freddie Freeman was 0-for-8 over the first two games of the series but has gone 5-for-8 with a homer in two games sense.

The Braves put the Dodgers in a hole early in Game 4 and they will be looking to do the same Thursday night.

The focus has been on Los Angeles’ bullpen for much of the series but Atlanta has done a good job of getting their starters out of the game early. Max Scherzer, Walker Buehler and Julio Urias have pitched a combined 14 innings in the series and have allowed 13 runs. Urias allowed eight hits and five runs and threw 92 pitches in five innings which helped save the bullpen somewhat for Thursday’s matchup. Tony Gonsolin pitched the final two innings of Game 4 and allowed four runs. Gonsolin started Game 1 for the Dodgers as the “bulk guy” in a bullpen game. His two inning stint Wednesday night likely removes him from the equation Thursday.

The Dodgers haven’t announced who will start Game 5 but it will be an all hands on deck situation. It looks like they will have to play it inning-by-inning but the Braves need to put the pressure on them early as every pitching change and subsequent inning will have an effect on the remainder of the series.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Thursday, October 21, 8:08 p.m. ET

Location: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, CA

TV: TBS

Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan, WNNX 100.5, Braves Radio Network