Braves @ Dodgers June 4, 2016: Whither Yasmani Grandal?

7:10 p.m. PT
Los Angeles
 CF Inciarte  2B Utley
 2B D’Arnaud  SS Seager
1B Freeman  3B Turner
LF Francoeur  1B Gonzalez
RF Markakis  RF Thompson
C Flowers  CF Pederson
3B Garcia  LF Kendrick
SS Castro  C Ellis
Norris (R)
Kershaw (L)

Following last night’s victory, the Dodgers will try to capitalize on a last-minute change in the Braves’ rotation. Mike Foltynewicz (whose name I had to spell four times to get it correct) was originally scheduled to take the mound for the Braves today, but has been sent to disabled list with a sore elbow. Taking his place is Bud Norris. As recently as a few years ago, Norris was a reasonable number three to number four starter, but he’s on his second straight year of being replacement-level or worse.

This year Norris has been something of a swingman for the Braves, and he has not adopted well to the role; his walk rate is up and his strikeout rate is down. So far he’s managed a 143 ERA- (really bad), a 130 FIP- (really bad), and a 120 xFIP- (you guessed it). Norris still throws hard, mixing in a 95mph fastball and an 86mph slider in equal parts and filling the remaining 10% with a new cutter in the lower 90s.

Norris is right-handed and the standard right-handed pitcher lineup is going out for the Dodgers with one notable exception: A.J. Ellis is catching. Yes, it’s a Clayton Kershaw start, but Yasmani Grandal has now sat out three of the last four games and four of the last seven. Grandal is in a slump, of course, but he’s still taking walks and it’s not like Ellis is a masher. It feels like the Dodgers may be hiding an injury here, and if Grandal is hurt they should just put him on the DL. If he’s not hurt, he still offers quite a bit of upside over Ellis. In 2016 Grandal holds an 82 wRC+ to Ellis’ 67, and Grandal is significantly better on defense. If Grandal is healthy, he’s riding the bench way too much. If he’s not, bring up Austin Barnes instead.

It seems like Julio Urias will be sticking around for awhile, at least. The Dodgers were being pretty wishy-washy about Tuesday’s starter but have finally announced that Urias will take the rubber against the Rockies. It also sounds like Hyun-jin Ryu is still a very long way out, because Roberts stated pre-game that Ryu’s rehab assignment will have to start all over again. Four rehab starts would take about three weeks, so if Ryu started today he’d be out until July. He’s not starting today. The clock is ticking for a 2016 return.

At least there’s still Kershaw.

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About Daniel Brim

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Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn't live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.