Yes, the time has come.
The Braves, finishing up a 14 straight game stretch to open the season, have arrived in LA to face the Dodgers in a series that has plenty of storylines and significance. For one, the Braves will be facing the Dodgers for the first time since the 2021 NLCS, a series that the Braves won in six games. Secondly, the Braves will be facing former first baseman Freddie Freeman for the first time since he signed with the Dodgers.
Obviously, these are the two biggest storylines of the series. However, Sunday’s performance by Bryce Elder and Spencer Strider created another narrative for this series, and a positive one at that: a fresh bullpen. Elder and Strider combined to throw eight innings on Sunday in a 2-1 loss against the Padres. Yes, they did give up 8 walks and the offense overall struggled, but the fact that the Braves did not have to rely on any other arms sets up the bullpen to support any short outings that may occur over the next few games. It also gives the bullpen a chance to more effectively keep leads in tact that the Braves offense may create.
Though the Braves are 5-6 and have run into plenty of bad luck, the performances of Elder, Strider, and Kyle Wright have to make the Braves feel encouraged that they have plenty of effective pitching depth to utilize in multiple ways as the season progresses. That should continue to pay huge dividends, especially when the offense becomes more consistent.
- The other big new of the day was the official announcement that Ronald Acuna Jr. will begin a rehab assignment with the Stripers on Tuesday. Though Acuna Jr. is still likely a few weeks away from officially returning to the Braves, seeing him return to the field in general is a great development this early in the season.
- Down on the farm, Jared Shuster and Tanner Gordon stood out over the weekend with some great performances on the mound.
- Brad Rowland and Scott Coleman had plenty to discuss on the latest edition of the Battery Power Podcast, including an up-and-down week with encouraging pitching performances, Matt Olson, and Acuna’s return to the diamond.
- While Shohei Ohtani is starting to find his power stroke, Mike Trout had another unfortunate injury scare on Sunday. Trout is day-to-day after being hit in the hand on Sunday.
- Former Trout teammate Albert Pujols showed that he has plenty left in the tank for the Cardinals as he connected for his second home run of the season on Sunday.
- As the Dodgers welcome the Braves, they will be doing so on a six-game winning streak. This includes a win on Sunday that was supported by a four hit day from Freddie Freeman.
- Blue Jays announcer Buck Martinez will be away from the team for an extended period as he looks to undergo cancer treatment in the near future. Obviously, best of luck to him and his family in what hopefully will be a quick and successful road to recovery.
- It seems several teams remain interested in Justin Upton and the outfielder could find a new home in the near future.
- Veteran arms Sonny Gray and Hyun-Jin Ryu were both placed on the 10-day IL on Sunday.