The Dodgers (33-23) get reinforcements Friday in Atlanta when they open a three-game set against the Braves (26-28). The two teams haven’t played against each other since the Braves lost to the Dodgers in the NLCS last October. The Dodgers arrive at Truist Park third place in the NL West, two games behind the Giants (35-21).
|1B||Muncy (L)||1B||Freeman (L)|
|P||Urías (L)||P||Anderson (R)|
It’s a bit of a mismatched contest this time. The Braves haven’t come together this year yet. They begin Friday’s series opener two games below .500 and 3 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East. The Braves have won 6 of their last 10 games, but they’re one game under .500 at home and four games below .500 against teams with a winning record. The Braves have yet to reach .500 at all this season and now must go up against the Dodgers who have the top run differential (+83) in baseball.
The Dodgers also get some reinforcements to their bench and bullpen. The injury bug hit L.A. hard this season, but they’re getting some guys back from their lengthy IL list including AJ Pollock and Jimmy Nelson.
Pollock starts in left field, batting eighth. He’s returning from rehabbing a left hamstring strain and last game was on May 14.
Tony Gonsolin is also close and with the team in Atlanta.
Trades for both teams were announced Friday prior to the game.
Julio Urias (7-2, 6.61 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 0.95 WHIP) is coming off one of the worst starts of his career. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on 11 hits to the Giants in five innings for the loss. The home run ball has been a problem for him this season. He’s allowed a career-high eight home runs with 1.07 HR/9 in 67 1/3 innings, but he’s also approaching a career-high in innings pitched. When opposing batters hit the ball in the air against Urias, the balls are going out at a 11.4% HR/FB rate. Although HR/FB rate has limited predictive value, because pitchers can’t control what a fly ball does, it is something to look at as Julio’s season as a full-time starter unfolds.
On the good side, Urías has kept left-handed opposing batters to a .164 average this season. He’s struck out lefties at a 31.6% K, and overall, he has a career-best 28.3 K% this year. The only left-hander in the Atlanta lineup, Freddie Freeman, is 1-for-14 on the homestand. He’s been unlucky on some hard hit balls this year with a .224 BABIP, the lowest of his career. He’s the lone lefty in the lineup vs. Urías with the switch-hitting Ozzie Albies batting third.
When Urías has that nasty slurvy curveball going, he’s so good. He’s thrown his curve 32% of the time this season.
Julio Urías, Beautiful 81mph Breaking Ball. 🌈 pic.twitter.com/egba3kpeTk— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 23, 2021
The Braves couldn’t muster much against Urías in the NLCS, which included three perfect innings to shut them down in Game 7.
The Braves counter with right-hander Ian Anderson (4-2, 3.27 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 1.25 WHIP). Part of a young and strong Atlanta rotation, Anderson introduced himself to the Dodgers in Game 2 and 7 of the NLCS last year. The Braves pushed Anderson’s scheduled start back so he could pitch in the series opener. Like Urías, Anderson is coming off a rough outing. He allowed four runs on seven hits to the divisional rival Mets in 4 IP. The Dodgers saw Anderson twice in the NLCS when he allowed two runs on six hits with seven walks in 7 IP.
Ian Anderson, Wicked 88mph Changeup. 👌 pic.twitter.com/PlptCrx6NM— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 19, 2020
All eyes are on the NL West. The Braves who would have to overtake the Mets to get into the playoffs should the NL West field three teams. While the Dodgers are still trying to get healthy at this point in the season, this series could be pivotal for the Braves. First pitch is at 4:20 PM PST.