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What next for the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers?

These two sides were supposed to be meeting for the National League Championship series, instead they find themselves at home and preparing for next season after losses to Wild Card teams.

Frustrating feelings for the shattered Braves

On the 1st June the Braves were ten and a half games back of the New York Mets in the National League East Division. Every game from then on was a chase to reach the Division title, which they secured in the final series. However, how much of a toll did this take on the Braves roster?

Team manager Brian Snitker and president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos were quick to avoid fatigue questions as they lined up for a postseason debrief with journalists. 

The Braves had five days off after the conclusion of the regular season which should have been used to recharge batteries. Momentum is a big thing in sport and clearly the Philadelphia Phillies had it when they played in the Division series, while the Braves didn't.

It was an 8-3 loss for the Braves in game four of the Division series to the third-placed team in NL East over the five-time consecutive winners of the Division and current World Series champions. 

The Phillies, now 39/10 for World Series glory, had beaten the St Louis Cardinals and couldn't have been underestimated, but surely the Braves had the better roster? Clearly not, Philadelphia played above and beyond themselves towards the end of the regular season and have pushed that into the postseason.

Snitker was left frustrated, speaking to The Athletic, he said: "Disappointed. Just remembering what we went through last year and expecting to do it again, I think, is the biggest thing. I mean, there's like unfinished business type stuff."

When you look at it, the Mets and Braves won 101 games and are out, but that is playoff baseball. To reach your goal, you have to play every day. The Phillies were much better over the series and deservedly reached the Championship series. 

The fact that they scraped into the postseason with the barest of margins is irrelevant when it comes to playing one-off series'.

When Freddie Freeman left the Braves last season, it was a shock. The impending free agency of shortstop Dansby Swanson is a worry for Atlanta fans. He has been lauded by his manager and teammates, will he stay with the Braves? Swanson has the same agent as Freeman in the negotiations with the Braves organisation.

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Record-setting Dodgers have room for reflection

The Dodgers won 111 games in the regular season, only the fifth team to ever do that in Major League Baseball history and were by far the standout team plus favourites for the World Series. 

So, just like the Atlanta Braves, why did their season finish so soon? Were they cooked like the Braves? Did team manager Dave Roberts make some questionable decisions? (Roberts is coming back for 2023, so perhaps not.) And most important, how do LA make a run for next season, without the same mistakes?

Clayton Kershaw has been such a staple pitcher for the Dodgers over the course of his career, he is now a free agent again. It's likely that they turn to the lefty again, they need him.

The Dodgers rotation has struggled to remain fit all season. It's something that requires improvement, they need some starting pitching help.

As of now, the only starting pitchers returning are Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May. Gonsolin has injury concerns and May has yet to reach his heights having recovered from Tommy John surgery in 2021.

Kershaw, Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney could yet return but they all are free agents as it stands. Other free agents that aren't pitchers are shortstop Trea Turner, Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner. 

Turner will likely get a big contract with the Dodgers or with some side who need a shortstop. Bellinger hasn't been in his best form since he won the 2019 Most Valuable Player in the National League. There are rumours that the Dodgers would let Bellinger go, along with Justin Turner, who is now 37-years-old and LA may want to move on from them.

Team manager Dave Roberts will return in 2023, and President of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman is right behind him. 

He spoke about Roberts to MLB.com, saying: "I think it's human nature to want to point the finger at someone. I feel like Dave and his coaching staff did an incredible job during the regular season to lead his team to 111 wins. That's my personal belief."

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