Turner Field was a house of horrors for visiting clubs, as the Braves compiled a major league best 56-25 (.691) mark there and went 25-10 since late July.
Los Angeles felt the wrath of Turner Field in a three-game sweep from May 17-19 and was outscored 16-8 in the series. L.A. managed a 2-5 record against the Braves in the regular season.
Atlanta is back in the playoffs for the third time in four years and won its first NL East crown since 2005. A 14-game winning streak and a 20-4 stretch from late July through August propelled the Braves, but they lost 13 of the last 24 games to close out the regular season.
But that's all in the past and now the postseason is on the minds of the players.
"At the end of the day, you've got to win ballgames," Braves outfielder Justin Upton said. "That is what the playoffs are all about. Everybody is 0-0. They have to win as many games as you do. That's just the way it is. No matter who it is, we have to beat the team that is in front of us."
The Braves couldn't pull that off last season after capturing a wild card berth, falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in a winner-take-all playoff. It didn't help that they committed three errors and left-field umpire Sam Holbrook made a momentum-killing infield-fly rule in the eighth inning of a crushing 6-3 loss.
Los Angeles, which won the NL West for the first time since 2009, missed the playoffs in each of the previous three seasons and lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in back-to-back NLCS series from 2008-09. The Dodgers and Braves haven't met in the postseason, though, since Atlanta swept the NLDS back in 1996. Braves greats John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine got the wins to complete the three-game sweep.
Atlanta will be missing one of its veteran starting pitchers this postseason in Tim Hudson, who made 21 starts before an ankle injury on July 24 against the New York Mets ended his season. The Braves won't be fretting too much because they have four starters who recorded 10 or more wins in the regular season, most notably Kris Medlen. Medlen was named the NL's Pitcher of the Month for September for the second year in a row and went 4-0 in five starts during the month. He helped the Braves claim home-field advantage in the NLDS and lasted at least seven innings in four September starts.
Medlen gets the nod for Game 1 versus the Dodgers and pitched against the Cardinals in last year's wild card game. He knows the lights are a bit brighter in the playoffs.
"Everything is magnified, one little mistake is a lot bigger in these kinds of situations," Medlen said. "You just have to try to not get too ahead of yourself and live in the moment. It's an unbelievable experience and it was a lot of fun last year. Even though we didn't come out on top, it was just a great experience and I don't expect anything different this time around, other than a win."
Medlen went 1-0 in two starts against the Dodgers in the regular season and is 3-0 with a 1.23 earned run average in eight career matchups (3 starts) with them. After Medlen, the Braves can go with Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Paul Maholm or Alex Wood. Atlanta had the best ERA (3.18) in the majors, just ahead of the second-place Dodgers (3.25).
Getting to closer Craig Kimbrel would be ideal for the Braves, as the hard- throwing right-hander recorded 50 saves this season. Kimbrel's 50 saves were tied with Baltimore's Jim Johnson for the major league lead and also represented the second-highest in team history. Smoltz had 55 back in 2002. Kimbrel is the youngest pitcher in major league history to notch 50 saves.