After picking up an 8-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals last night, the Atlanta Braves find themselves in prime position to pick up their second series win in as many tries so far this season. They’ll have to find a way to get it done with their second rookie pitcher making his MLB debut in the past three days.
That man is Dylan Dodd, who will be getting his first shot at taking on major league batters. If the leap from the minors and spring training proved to be a large one for Jared Shuster (who was facing the Washington Nationals, mind you), then this figures to be an even stiffer test for Dodd — he’s only tallied 6.2 innings of experience past the Double-A level and he’ll be welcomed to MLB by the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Wilson Contreras. Go get ‘em, kid!
Even though you could argue that Dodd is only in this position due to the fact that he survived spring training while others either got hurt or floundered, the point is that the Braves still trust him enough to put him out there to start the season. If he’s going to lean on anything, it’s the fact that he’s already shown that he’s got some pretty good command and has been highly averse to walking people as a professional pitcher so far in his career. Avoiding walks at this level is half of the battle, and if he can get ahead in a lot of counts then I could see Dodd finding a way to successfully navigate through his first big league start. He’s got a huge challenge ahead of him but again, he wouldn’t be in this position if the Braves didn’t believe in him.
On the other side of things, the Cardinals are choosing to send Steven Matz to the mound for tonight’s contest. Matz is a familiar foe for some of the Braves, as he started his career in 2015 with the New York Mets before eventually moving to the Toronto Blue Jays last season and settling in St. Louis last year. Matz was having a relatively steady campaign in 2022 before he suffered a torn MCL in his left knee that sidelined him from late-July until mid-September (and this was after he was out for the entire month of June and most of July due to a shoulder impingement) and once he returned, it was as part of the bullpen. Things have changed for the better since then, as Matz had himself a really good spring training and regained his spot in the rotation for this season and now he’s getting his first start of the campaign against a high-powered Braves lineup.
The Braves will be catching Steven Matz when he’s healthy, so that means that this could be tough sledding for Atlanta in this one. Matz’s main issue has always been his health, as he’s usually been a pretty effective pitcher as long as he’s not dealing with some sort of ailment. With that being said, the Braves have had their ups and downs against Matz when he was a member of the Mets and the obvious hope is that tonight is another one of the ‘ups’ instead of being a down period.
You’d like to see the Braves find a way to get Dylan Dodd some run support — ideally, early on in the game so that it’ll make it a little bit easier for Dodd to get settled in. Again, he’s going to have a serious challenge on his hands keeping the meat of this Cardinals lineup quiet but if any rookie has seemingly got the composure to deal with such a threat, it’s Dylan Dodd. Here’s hoping that his first night in the bigs is one to remember.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, April 4, 7:45 p.m. ET
Location: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
TV: Bally Sports South
Streaming: MLB TV
Radio: 680 AM / 93.7 FM The Fan