The Atlanta Braves will continue their road trip on Friday when they open a three-game set in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. The Braves began the trip by dropping 2-of-3 in San Diego and have fallen into a virtual tie with the Washington Nationals for the NL East lead.
Overall the Braves have played well on the road posting a 20-14 record but have struggled a bit of late going just 3-6 over their last nine away from SunTrust Park. They will have their hands full this weekend with a Dodgers team that is playing its best baseball of the season.
Los Angeles has battled injury all season long but has come alive of late going 15-5 over their last 20 games to reach the .500 mark for the season. It isn’t the usual suspects that are making the difference either. Clayton Kershaw is on the disabled list for the second time this season. Corey Seager tore the UCL and is out for the year.
When Atlanta dumped Matt Kemp and his contract many thought there was no chance that he would be on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster much less arguably their best player. Kemp is hitting .353/.384/.599 with 10 home runs and leads the team in fWAR at 2.1. Credit him for showing up to camp 40 pounds lighter and has so far been able to avoid the nagging injuries that derailed his final season in Atlanta.
Friday, June 8, 10:10 p.m. ET (Fox Sports South)
Brandon McCarthy (2018: 12 GS, 5-2 W-L, 18.8 K%, 6.9 BB%, 4.83 ERA, 4.22 FIP, 3.60 xFIP)
The Braves acquired Brandon McCarthy as part of the Kemp trade and this will be his first trip back to Los Angeles. McCarthy got off to a hot start but had an up and down May but got June off on a good note allowing four hits and two runs over six innings last time out against the Nationals.
Walker Buehler (2018: 8 GS, 3-1 W-L, 27.2 K%, 6.0 BB%, 2.74 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 2.95 xFIP)
Walker Buehler is one of the Dodgers’ highest rated prospects and he has shown why over the first few starts of his career. Buehler is averaging more than a strikeout per inning and has walked just 11 men in 46 innings. He did allow eight hits and four runs over five innings against the Rockies at Coors Field in his last start.
Saturday, June 9, 9:10 p.m. ET (Fox Sports South)
Anibal Sanchez (2018: 5 G, 4 GS, 1-0 W-L, 20.6 K%, 8.8 BB%, 2.16 ERA, 4.84 FIP, 4.25 xFIP)
Anibal Sanchez struggled in his first start since coming off the disabled list but returned to form in his last outing. Sanchez allowed two hits and two unearned runs in seven innings and picked up a victory in his last start. That lowered his ERA to 2.16 for the season.
Alex Wood (2018: 12 GS, 1-4 W-L, 22.6 K%, 4.9 BB%, 4.48 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 3.41 xFIP)
Former Brave Alex Wood will get the start for the Dodgers on Saturday. Wood has scuffled of late allowing 11 earned runs including four home runs over his last two starts. He allowed five hits and six runs in just two innings last time out against the Rockies. Wood has faced the Braves three times since he was traded and has given up 11 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings.
Sunday, June 10, 4:10 p.m. ET (Fox Sports South)
The Braves haven’t announced a starter for Sunday’s game. It lines up to be Sean Newcomb but that they elected to hold off on announcing a starter suggests they may have plans to push everyone back and give him an extra day of rest.
Ross Stripling (2018: 18 G, 7 GS, 4-1 W-L, 30.7 K%, 5.1 BB%, 1.52 ERA, 1.99 FIP, 2.63 xFIP)
Ross Stripling is another one of those unsung and unexpected heroes that has played a huge part in the Dodgers’ surge. Stripling began the season in the bullpen but was forced into the rotation due to multiple injuries to LA’s rotation.
Stripling was off to a great start as a reliever allowing just one run over 15 1/3 innings. He has carried that over to the rotation where he has allowed just eight earned runs over 38 innings (1.89 ERA).