Dodgers @ Braves June 24, 2022: Dodgers and Freeman return to Atlanta

After scuffling for a little bit, the Dodgers (43-25) had an easy three game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds (23-46), and maintain a one game lead in the NL West. They trail the New York Mets (45-26) by just half a game for the best record in the National League.

The Braves (41-30), are 18-3 in their last 21 games, so it’s hard to argue there is any hotter team in baseball, besides maybe the New York Yankees (52-18) who’ve been on fire all season long. During this stretch, the Braves have gone from a 23-27 record and 10.5 games behind the Mets, to 41-30 and now trail by just four games. When Atlanta came to Los Angeles earlier in the year, the Dodgers took two of three outscoring them 13-8. Julio Urias will be on the mound to start the series up against the right-handed Ian Anderson. Freddie Freeman will make his return to Atlanta, likely to plenty of well deserved cheers from the Atlanta crowd.

4:20 PM Atlanta
SS T. Turner RF Acuña Jr.
1B Freeman (L) SS Swanson
C Smith 3B Riley
3B Muncy (L) 1B Olson (L)
LF Taylor DH Ozuna
DH J. Turner C Contreras
2B Lux (L) LF Duvall
CF Bellinger (L) 2B Arcia
RF Thompson CF Harris II (L)
P Urías (L) P Anderson (R)

The Dodgers will run out a very similar lineup as they did against the Reds this previous series. Gavin Lux will move up to seventh in the lineup, while Trayce Thompson will hit ninth and make his first start with the team this season.

Here’s how these two offenses compare.

The Dodgers are obviously one of the best offenses in baseball besides having some days where they look like the worst offense in baseball. It doesn’t make sense but if you watch the games, you understand. Even without Mookie Betts they’re a tough group for any pitcher to face. The Braves are also a dangerous lineup ranking in the top ten in almost all meaningful offensive stats.

The Braves feature the third highest wRC+ against left-handed pitching at 124, with the highest slugging percentage at .479, and second highest OPS at .817. In 44 plate appearances, William Contreras has a 210 wRC+, while more full-time players also crush lefties, led by Dansby Swanson (177 wRC+, 1.006 OPS), Austin Riley (174 wRC+, 1.019 OPS), and Ronald Acuna Jr. (172 wRC+, .992 OPS). A lot of danger there for Urías to navigate.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers own one of the best offenses against right-handed pitching, with a 119 wRC+ second to only the Yankees, while their .776 OPS is the best in baseball. For the Dodgers, there’s less damage at the top like the Braves against LHP, but it’s spread out very evenly across the entire lineup. The team obviously misses Betts, but Trayce Thompson is a serviceable bat in the meantime. Freeman features a 146 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, with Trea Turner close behind at 140, while all of Chris Taylor (117), Gavin Lux (117), Will Smith (112), Cody Bellinger (107) and Max Muncy (101) are all above average against right-handed pitching.

Obviously it has to be checked, Freeman leads Matt Olson in essentially every category, and is seeming to just finally get hot. He’s slashing .396/.473/.750 over his last 12 games and 55 plate appearances. He has four home runs in that stretch including three in his last four games, and seems to be finding his power stroke.

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Here’s how Anderson and Urías match up among 63 qualified pitchers.

Urias earned the win his last time out, going six innings and allowing one unearned run on two hits and two walks while striking out six against the Cleveland Guardians. He struggled a bit in the first, issuing both of his walks resulting in a run scoring on an error. He settled in well after that, retiring 16 of his next 18 batters. He managed to get 12 swinging strikes that outing, looking like his stuff is improving and he’s getting things going again. Even though he hasn’t had his best stuff this entire season, he has just a 2.24 ERA over his last 12 starts and 68.1 innings, removing his poor season debut allowing three earned runs in just two innings. The name of the game is limiting runs, and he’s been excellent at that despite not looking sharp every outing. His 2.56 ERA is the fifth lowest in the National League, and he’ll look to keep that going against a dangerous Braves offense.

Anderson also earned the win in his last start, going 6.2 scoreless innings against the Cubs, allowing just three hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He’s had a bit of a disappointing season thus far, and that’s made clear by the fact that his start against the Cubs was his first outing of the year without allowing an earned run. This might be a step in the right direction for him, because prior to that start he had a really rough stretch going on in his last five starts, going 27.2 innings allowing 19 earned runs, for a 6.18 ERA.

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Unfortunate news for Andrew Heaney, going on the IL once again with shoulder inflammation. Reyes Moronta is up, and it appears that Mitch White will start tomorrow instead of Heaney.

Incredible update on Dustin May, for those of you looking for a timeline, this looks like a potential return could be sometime in August.

As expected.

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First pitch is at 4:20 PM PDT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!