The Dodgers arrive back home in Los Angeles Friday to host a Braves team that has found itself near the top of the National League East all year long. Atlanta is a different team than the one that has lost 10 of the last 13 at Dodger Stadium.
After losing at least 90 games in each of the last three years, the Braves are poised for their first winning season since 2013. It’s not often a 90-loss team turns it around the next season but the Braves are seeing an early return on a patient rebuild.
Atlanta is leading the NL in scoring with over five runs a game and are top five in nearly every offensive category in all of baseball. 21-year-old Ozzie Albies leads the team 14 homers and has formed quite the duo with 20-year-old Ronald Acuna, even if Acuna currently resides on the disabled list.
Nick Markakis is hitting .328 with 42 runs driven in while Freddie Freeman is at .338 with 11 homers and 43 RBIs. Interestingly enough, Matt Kemp (.349) is one of only two players that have hit for a higher average than the Markakis and Freeman in the NL.
Since May 17, Kemp is 29-for-67 (.433) with five homers and 22 RBIs. All this after the 33-year-old wasn’t supposed to be on the team after spring training.
One thing the Dodgers will be glad to rely on in this series is starting pitching. On the most recent road trip, there was essentially a “bullpen game” in three of the six games. They would end up winning five of the six anyway.
The Dodgers completed a 5-1 trip on which their starters got 45 outs and their relievers got 114 outs. That, as they say, is not sustainable.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) June 7, 2018
Friday, 7:10 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA)
The Dodgers will face old friend Brandon McCarthy who has remained fairly healthy for his new team. The lanky right-hander will be making his 13th start of 2018 after making 29 in three years with the Dodgers.
The opposition has scored five or more runs on him in four of his previous 12 starts this season.
Walker Buehler will take the ball for the Dodgers coming off a shaky start at Coors Field. Despite giving up four runs in the second inning, Buehler recovered nicely to make it through five innings without allowing another run.
The 23-year-old has allowed two or less runs in six of his eight starts.
Saturday, 6:10 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA)
Alex Wood faces his former team having not fared very well the last two times out. The lefty has been dealing with a cramp in his left leg and gave up 11 runs over seven and one-third innings combined.
Anibal Sanchez will make his fifth start for the Braves this season. The right-hander has allowed eight runs (six earned) in his four starts to this point, four of those runs coming in his first start off the DL on May 29 after missing over a month with a hamstring injury.
Sunday, 1:10 p.m. PT (SportsNet LA)
The Dodgers will turn to Ross Stripling as he looks to continue his amazing run in 2018. Since the start of May, Stripling has been charged with just four runs in 35 innings to the tune of a 1.03 ERA. The right-hander has also limited walks, issuing four while striking out 48.
The Braves haven’t announced a starter for Sunday yet but it could be Sean Newcomb on normal rest. The lefty has a 1.32 ERA in seven starts since the calendar flipped to May.