Series Preview: Dodgers Begin Six-Game Road Trip In Atlanta

Los Angeles Dodgers: 17-22
Atlanta Braves: 22-18

Current State of the Team:

It’s amazing what winning can do as Dodgers fans have had something to finally cheer about. The Dodgers have won four of six and look to be primed for a long winning streak.

Starters Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched great games at Chavez Ravine as the Dodgers offense looks to be waking up a little bit. Matt Kemp has a 14-game hitting streak and while he isn’t hitting home runs, he seems to be finding a consistent stroke.

However, the bullpen is a work in progress as we saw Kenley Jansen and Brandon League notch saves and it’ll be interesting over the weekend who Don Mattingly goes to in a save situation.

Keys to Victory:

1) Don’t Let Justin Upton Beat You

To say Justin Upton hits Dodger pitching well would be a severe understatement. During his years in Arizona, Upton is hitting .283 with eight home runs and 34 RBI’s in 79 career games.

So far this season, Upton is impressing in Atlanta as he already has 12 home runs and 23 RBI’s in 40 games. The Braves lineup is potent, but it’d behoove Dodgers pitchers if they didn’t give Upton much to hit.

One aspect of Upton’s game that Dodgers pitchers can expose is his ability to strike out. In 40 games, Upton has 40 strike outs and as a team, the Braves rank 2nd in baseball with 370 strikeouts as a team.

2) Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier

It seems like a broken record, but Kemp and Ethier need to get going. Yes Kemp has a 14-game hitting streak, but his inability to hit with RISP shows through the Dodgers lack of runs scored.

Meanwhile, Ethier is starting to hit the ball the other way, an indication that his swing and timing is getting better. Ethier and Kemp both had hits in each of the three games against the Nationals.

While Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez have been productive for most of the season, if the Dodgers want to string wins together, Ethier and Kemp need to join the party.

3) Bullpen

Boy have things gone downhill for the Dodgers bullpen. After starting the year as one of baseball’s best units, the Dodgers bullpen ranks 26th in baseball with a 4.34 ERA.

Mattingly has a closer controversy on his hands after both Jansen and League recorded saves and it isn’t known who will be the team’s closer going forward. While Ryu pitches tonight, the Dodgers bullpen will need to support starters Chris Capuano and Matt Magill over the weekend.

Dodgers starters outside of Kershaw and Ryu haven’t gone deep into games and it’ll be up to Mattingly to determine how to best use his struggling bullpen.

Pitching Probables:

LAD-Hyun-Jin Ryu (4-2, 3.40) vs. ATL-Paul Maholm (4-4, 3.94)
LAD-Chris Capuano (1-2, 6.60) vs. ATL-Kris Medlen (1-5, 3.44)
LAD-Matt Magill (0-0, 6.92) vs. ATL-Mike Minor (5-2, 2.75)

Series Prediction: Dodgers lose two of three. Ryu wins Friday, but Capuano and Magill lose their starts.

Ross Gasmer

Ross Gasmer is a Social Media Producer for @TheHerd and was a contributing writer and editor for Dodger Nation. Follow him on Twitter @Ross_Gasmer12

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