LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – After a hard-fought National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants, the Dodgers will face off against the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS for a second straight year.

Los Angeles punched its ticket to the NLCS with a thrilling 2-1 victory in Game 5 of the NLDS in San Francisco on Thursday night. Cody Bellinger’s RBI single in the ninth inning gave Los Angeles the go-ahead lead, paving the way for Max Scherzer, who closing the game out in the bottom half of the inning.

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The Dodgers (106-56) will look to build off that momentum after coming from behind twice this postseason; once in the NL Wild Card game and twice in the NLDS.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 14: Max Scherzer #31 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the ninth inning in game 5 of the National League Division Series at Oracle Park on October 14, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The Boys In Blue are expected to hand the ball to Scherzer once again for Game 1. Scherzer will play catch on Saturday and if he feels good enough to pitch, he will indeed be Los Angeles’ Game 1 starter, according Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

On the other hand, the Braves enter the series after overcoming a 1-0 series deficit against the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS, winning three straight games, including a pair of shutout victories.

About the Braves

Despite losing All-Star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. to a torn ACL injury in July, Atlanta captured the NL East division title with a 88-73 overall record. Despite having the worst record among all playoff teams, the Braves find themselves with home-field advantage and a decent chance at reaching the World Series.

The Braves will start left hander Max Fried (14-7, 3.04 ERA) in Game 1. The Harvard Westlake product has gone 1-2 with a 4.30 ERA and 29 stakeouts in five starts against the Dodgers.

Leading the way for Atlanta’s offense is first baseman Freddie Freeman. The reigning NL MVP hit .300 with 31 homeruns, 83 RBI in 159 games for the Braves this season.

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Freeman continued to produce for the Braves in the NLDS, hitting a go-ahead homerun in the eighth inning off Brewers reliever Josh Hader in Game 4 of the NLDS. Catapulted by Freeman’s homer, Atlanta closed out the series against Milwaukee.

Producing for the Braves along with Freeman is former Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson. Acquired by Atlanta in a trade with the Chicago Cubs back in July, Pederson is showing Braves fans why he earned the nickname last season, “Joctober.” Pederson blasted a pair of homeruns in the NLDS for the Braves, including a pinch-hit three run homer in Game 3.

Moreover, Los Angeles won the regular season series against Atlanta, 4-2. But after overcoming a 3-1 series deficit against the Braves last postseason, manager Dave Roberts knows the Dodgers will face an extra-motivated team on Saturday.

“Whether you want to call it an opportunity or redemption, certainly, it’s on their minds,” Roberts said. “A lot of the same guys that we saw last year against this club.”

Additional Notes

First pitch for Game 1 is scheduled for 5:08 p.m. pacific time, and can be seen on TBS.

This will be the fifth postseason matchup between these two clubs. The Dodgers have dominated the series 3-1.

Dodgers are hoping Max Muncy will be able to contribute sometime during this series. Muncy suffered an elbow laceration in the final game of the regular season. Although he is able to swing a bat, it’s doubtful that we see Muncy in the starting lineup anytime soon.

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“If he feels he can do anything at any point in the series, it’s certainly something we need to consider,” Roberts said. “Still unlikely but we’re holding out hope as much as we can. m