Dodgers, Braves Split Series: Strong Pitching, Puig-Mania Continues
The Dodgers earned a bit of redemption. After getting embarrassingly swept in Atlanta by the Braves back in May, the Dodgers won the first two games and split the series with Atlanta. Puig-mania continued and the Dodgers got solid starting pitching throughout the series, minus Matt Magill’s start on Sunday (and even that wasn’t entirely his fault). Here’s a look back at the not epic, but fully enjoyable series between the Dodgers and the NL East leading Braves.
Unless you were out of the country, or cryogenically frozen, over this past week, you know by now that the Dodgers called up highly-anticipated prospect Yasiel Puig.
Puig is a five-tool player who has drawn comparisons to Bo Jackson and Roberto Clemente. Many have speculated that his arrival could spark the Dodgers offense much like Mike Trout did to the Angels upon his arrival last year and this could turn out to be prophetic.
Puig has been destroying lives since his arrival. He continued his other-worldly hitting by going 8-16 with two homers and five RBIs including a grand slam in Thursday night’s 5-0 win. But, that’s not all, folks. He nailed down another runner in Saturday night’s 2-1 loss, this time the Braves’ Andrelton Simmons trying to go first to third.
Puig’s numbers now look like this:
.464 Batting Avg./.483 OBP/1.447 OPS 4 HR 10 RBIs
Wow! Puig can do no wrong right now. With injuries sidelining other Dodgers’ stars, fans can take comfort that Yasiel Puig is now in the lineup on an everyday basis.
STRONG STARTING PITCHING
Despite the heroics of Puig this week, pitching will continue to be key to the Dodgers’ success. Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched like aces and Stephen Fife threw a quality start, as well.
Greinke threw seven shutout innings Thursday night en route to his third win of the year while striking out seven and walking three. It was Greinke’s first win since May 15 and the deepest he has pitched into a game this season.
Hyun-Jin Ryu delivered with 7.2 innings of one run ball Friday night which is his second longest start of the season. Ryu has been sublime this season as his season ERA is now 2.72.
Stephen Fife had another solid start, pitching 6.2 innings in Saturday’s 2-1 loss. He gave up two solo home runs, one to Dan Uggla, and another to opposing pitcher Kris Medlen. Fife had a season high seven strikeouts with only one walk and his ERA now sits at 3.78.
The Dodgers will need Fife going forward with Chris Capuano out for the near future. Josh Beckett isn’t coming back anytime soon, maybe not even this season, so Fife should start looking for some housing in L.A.
Credit to the Braves’ starting pitching who equaled and then out-dueled the Dodgers’ starters in this series. Tim Hudson, who will be 38 next month, threw seven innings of one run ball to match Greinke on Thursday. Paul Maholm threw 7.1 innings of one run ball Friday night to match Ryu.
Kris Medlen bested Fife Saturday with 6.2 innings of shutout ball. Despite a 3-6 record, the Orange County native sports a 2.87 ERA. I think Medlen is one of those guys if you wanted to teach a right-handed person how to pitch, you would show them tape of Medlen.
The Dodgers fell victim to Mike Minor on Sunday afternoon. Not only has the Vanderbilt product been Atlanta’s best pitcher this season, he has been among the NL’s best with an 8-2 record (tied for 4th), 2.44 ERA (8th), 0.94 WHIP (3rd), and a sick 78-17 K:BB ratio. If you enjoy good pitching, this series was a showcase for it.
I don’t want to jinx it, but the Dodgers’ bullpen was absolutely fantastic against the Braves this week. The bullpen threw twelve innings giving up only one run over the four-games against the Braves. Matt Guerrier struck out two batters to end Thursday’s game and Brandon League finally executed in a non-save situation as he pitched a scoreless 10th inning Friday night, earning his second win of the year.
J.P. Howell and newly recalled Peter Moylan each continued their strong pitching with scoreless innings Saturday night. Despite being down 8-1 on Sunday, Guerrier, Moylan, and Paco Rodriguez each threw in scoreless innings. The Dodgers bullpen now ranks 10th in the NL with a 3.94 ERA.
Look at a team like the Yankees, crippled by injuries, but able to close out games late. Their 3.34 bullpen ERA is 4th in the AL. The NL West rival Giants have the second best bullpen in the NL (2.83 ERA), Arizona, San Diego, and Colorado are 5th, 6th, and 7th respectively. Dodgers’ relievers will need to step up, but it appears they’re heading in the right direction.
Next up, the Dodgers will take on the NL West leading Arizona Diamondbacks for three key games. Clayton Kershaw takes the hill Monday night against Arizona’s Wade Miley in a matchup of lefty’s. The D’backs have won 5 of 6 meetings with the Dodgers so far, including a sweep at Dodger Stadium May 6-8.