Dodgers-Braves Series Preview

Freddie Freeman returning to Atlanta is the biggest story in Dodgers-Braves series
The biggest story in the Dodgers-Braves series is the return of Atlanta’s fan favorite Freddie Freeman. Freeman leaving for Los Angeles will finally, truly hit home for Braves fans this weekend Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Biggest Dodgers-Braves Story: Freeman Returns

There is great importance on the Dodgers-Braves series this weekend, but the biggest story is the return of Freddie Freeman to Atlanta. Freeman leaving for Los Angeles was something no Braves fan wanted. Matt Olson, a cheaper replacement who Atlanta could sign long term, has been fine at 1B. The reality of what the Braves lost though is clear: an MVP who through 12 years in Atlanta won the fans hearts with his love of playing baseball and of the organization. Winning the World Series last season cemented in fans minds the idea of Freeman being a Brave for his entire career.

Leaving for Los Angeles, a big rival of Atlanta, was something no fan of the Braves wanted to see. As many times as the Dodgers knocked the Braves out of the playoffs Atlanta beating the Dodgers in the NLCS last year meant more to everyone. Freeman helped deliver Atlanta its first World Series title in 26 years. The 1B returning to California made sense, as he grew up there. It certainly felt like a homecoming to him. The Dodgers offered him more years, which Freeman clearly wanted. While his power, 8 HRs, has not been to the level of the past few seasons, everything else has been. Freeman proving to be worth his $162 million deal is no surprise. Freeman’s stats in Los Angeles against Atlanta: 4-13 with a HR show he should handle this series just fine.

Los Angeles-Atlanta Pitching Matchups

Spencer Strider, a key young piece of the Atlanta Braves rotation, starts Sunday against the Dodgers
Spencer Strider, a key young piece of the Atlanta Braves rotation, has his biggest start so far Sunday against the Dodgers Mitchell Layton/Getty Images/AFP

Fridays Pitching Matchup

The Dodgers, with few exceptions, have solid pitching. This weekend will showcase that. Julio Urias starts Friday against Ian Anderson, who has been a little shaky for Atlanta at times. His last start against the Chicago Cubs was one of his best this season: 6.2 innings with only 3 hits allowed. The Braves hope he can build off that. Urias has been strong for the Dodgers, giving up more than three runs just twice this season. With his record at 4-6 the Dodgers run support for him has been lacking.

Saturdays Starters

Andrew Heaney, who previously pitched for the Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, and New York Yankees, gets the call for Los Angeles Saturday. His three starts since coming of the IL with shoulder soreness give the Dodgers hope that he can make spots starts for them, if needed. Max Fried’s start to this season, outside of his first two starts, proves that he’s Atlanta’s ace. He is the teams unquestioned Cy Young candidate, and while other pitchers have struggled Fried has been the one pitcher the Braves could count on every fifth day.

Game 3’s Pitchers

Speaking of Cy Young candidates, Tony Gonsolin will be on the mound for Los Angeles Sunday. On a team with future HOFer Clayton Kershaw Gonsolin has been the best pitcher this season. He has given up just 12 earned runs in 13 starts this season. His opponent, Spencer Strider, makes his biggest start for Atlanta so far. Strider comes off a tough outing for the Braves: 3.1 innings with 6 hits and 6 runs given up against the San Francisco Giants. The Braves need a strong outing from him against a tough Dodgers lineup to have a chance to win.

LA-Atlanta Series Outlook

Closer Kenley Jansen for the has been solid for the Braves since coming to the team from the Dodgers
Atlanta Braves closer Kenley Jansen AP Photo/ Todd Kirkland

Picking a winner in the three game Dodgers-Braves is not easy. Atlanta is hot with an 18-3 record in June, but the team often struggles against Los Angeles. The Dodgers struggles recently have allowed the San Diego Padres to hang around in the NL West race. This despite the fact that Fernando Tatis and Manny Machado are both currently injured. Atlanta has had to catch fire to stay close in the NL East, as the New York Mets have had a very strong start to the season.

One matchup to look forward to is between the teams closers. Kenley Jansen has taken a few lumps here and there for the Braves, but especially this month, has been just fine for the team. He has certainly fared better then his replacement on the Dodgers, Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel may have only blown one save this season, but he is 0-3 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.55 WHIP in 23 games this year. All of those stats are not in line with his career averages. If it comes down to the final inning the advantage goes to Atlanta.

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