The Dodgers face Derek Lowe today, for the first time since he left them to sign with the Braves on a four-year, $60 million contract this offseason. Lowe, a workhorse who provided the Dodgers with four very solid seasons, is struggling a bit with Atlanta this season. His ERA (4.20), ERA+ (99), x-FIP (4.64) are all worse than his numbers with the Dodgers. However, Lowe has four straight quality starts, with a 2.62 ERA over that time, and has pitched six innings in 16 of 22 starts this season.
Adam Rosenberg of MLB.com tells us Lowe's approach against his former team:
"Obviously I played with a lot of the current Dodgers," Lowe said. "But it's tough to say that I know how to pitch them. I've probably watched more tape of them over the past 10 days than I normally do when preparing to face an opponent."
The Dodgers are sending Lowe's 2007 teammate, Randy Wolf to the mound, a pitcher in search of wins in consecutive starts for the first time this season. Since his admittedly poor outing against the White Sox last month, Wolf has pitched very well, with a 2.87 ERA over six straight quality starts. Wolf has pitched six innings in 18 of 22 starts this season.
Rafael Furcal has an 11-game hitting streak, during which time he is hitting .373/.389/.549. Although Furcal hasn't faced Derek Lowe since 2005, he has five hits, including a double and a home run, in 11 at-bats against him in his career, and is hitting .455/.538/.818 off Lowe.
Future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones has enjoyed facing Randy Wolf in his career, hitting .341/.474/.659 in 57 plate appearances. Catcher Brian McCann has also fared well against the southpaw, albeit on a smaller scale, hitting .800/.875/1.600. In eight plate appearances against Wolf, McCann has only made one out (a deep flyout to centerfield last season).
Since the start of the 2006 season, Chipper Jones has the second-highest OPS+ in baseball at 160. Manny Ramirez is third, with a 154 OPS+. It should come as no surprise that Albert Pujols is number one on that list, with a 178 OPS+. Jones, who is hitting .287 this season, has hit .300 or better ten times in his career. Only Hank Aaron, with 14 .300 seasons, has more in Braves' history.
Adam LaRoche, who was reacquired by Atlanta before Friday's non-waiver trading deadline, is expected to start at first base today for the Braves.
For the Braves, Yunel Escobar and Martin Prado are still out for today's game, while Ryan Church may be available only for pinch running or defense, according to Carroll Rodgers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Difference in Speed: The Dodgers are a faster team than the Braves, and not just because they have more stolen bases (78 for the Dodgers; 37 for the Braves). Each team has hit a double with a runner on first 61 times this season. The runner on first for the Dodgers scored 30 times (third highest percentage in the NL), compared to just 22 for the Braves (the second lowest percentage in the league). Dodger runners on second have scored on a single 65.7% of the time (90 of 137), compared to just 60% for the Braves (75 of 125).
Dodger Injury News: Ken Gurnick reported that Ronald Belisario pitched a simulated game today in Atlanta, with Juan Pierre and Juan Castro batting. If Belisario is deemed healthy after this outing, he could begin a rehab assignment next week.
Cory Wade pitched a scoreless inning last night in Albuquerque, and has allowed one hit over 2.1 innings in his three games since starting his rehab assignment. His appearance on July 29 was only a third of an inning because there was a rain delay during Wade's inning.
Doug Mientkiewicz has six hits in 18 at-bats in four games so far on a rehab assignment with Albuquerque, protecting his coveted .300 minor league batting average.
The Dodgers are 11-5 on Saturdays this season, but only 4-4 on the road.
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Game Time: 1:10pm