The last time the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers met, a trip to the World Series was on the line. The stakes aren’t nearly so high this time, and neither team is even leading its division as the two clubs meet in a three-game series beginning Friday in Atlanta.
The Dodgers are 33-23, third place in the National League West but just 3-5 over their past eight games. The Braves (26-28) are in second place in the NL East, but haven’t been above the .500 mark all season.
Still, there is great anticipation for the series in Atlanta, where sellout crowds are expected this weekend.
“It’s going to be a great series,” Atlanta shortstop Dansby Swanson said. “We’re looking forward to the matchup and looking forward to getting better every day.”
The starting pitchers for the series opener will be Atlanta’s Ian Anderson (4-2, 3.27) and Los Angeles southpaw Julio Urias (7-2, 3.61).
Anderson will make his 11th start of the season. He has been the team’s most consistent starting pitcher, but allowed four runs in four innings while losing his last start against the New York Mets on May 29.
Anderson has never faced Los Angeles during the regular season, but made two starts against the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. He threw four shutout innings in the first game and allowed two runs in three innings in his second appearance.
Urias was roughed up in his last start against San Francisco on May 29. He allowed seven runs (six earned) and 11 hits – both season highs — in five innings. It was his most ineffective start of the season, but he was still able to work through the fifth inning and save a few innings for the bullpen.
“The fastball wasn’t there,” Urias said. “I didn’t really have the other stuff working for me.”
He has made two regular-season relief appearances against the Braves in his career, throwing four scoreless innings. He appeared twice against Atlanta in the playoffs last season, starting once, with a 2-0 record and a 1.13 ERA.
Urias is the latest in a series of left-handed pitchers seen by the Braves. Atlanta beat Washington lefty Patrick Corbin on Thursday afternoon and improved to 6-7 against southpaws.
Atlanta’s hottest hitter has been Swanson, who hit his 10th home run on Thursday and brings a career-long 12-game hitting streak into the weekend series. Swanson has four home runs against lefties. During his hitting streak, Swanson is hitting .362 (17-for-47) with five homers and five doubles.
“He’s been working,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s been down in the cage working tirelessly. He gets a lot of respect because he takes pride in that. He’s not a finished product, either.”
The Dodgers took Thursday off after winning two of three from St. Louis. Los Angeles scored 11 times in the first inning of Wednesday’s 14-3 win.
“We have a really good team, man,” center fielder Cody Bellinger said. “We’ve been banged up for a little bit and it’s not exactly what the team had planned, but we have depth and it showed in the first part of the season.”
–Field Level Media