Two runaway National League division leaders will square off in a possible playoff preview when the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Atlanta Braves for four games beginning on Thursday.
The Braves own the major leagues’ best record at 87-45, with the Dodgers second best at 83-49 and closing fast with 24 victories in 28 games this month. The August success has given Los Angeles its third most wins in a single month in franchise history. With another victory on Thursday, the Dodgers would tie their single-month high accomplished in June 1947 and August 1953.
“I think a lot of times teams talk about having the pitching and not having the hitting, or vice versa,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think, right now, we’ve had both every night.”
The Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday with a 7-0 win. The Braves earned a 7-3 victory against the Colorado Rockies in Denver for their own three-game sweep.
The meeting between the teams is the first since the Dodgers won two of three at Atlanta in late May.
The Dodgers and Braves altered courses from there. Los Angeles went 8-13 after leaving Atlanta to tumble into third place in the NL West. The Braves continued to stumble for just over a week until going on a dominating 24-3 run.
The Dodgers are revived behind a relentless offensive attack led by former Braves standout Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts. Freeman started Los Angeles’ scoring on Wednesday with his 25th homer of the season. The two-run shot in the third inning scored Betts, who had led off the inning with a single.
“It’s going to be a fun four-game series,” Roberts said. “(The Braves) have been the best team, the class of baseball from the get-go. They can pitch, their (bullpen) is solid, their position players are as good as anybody in baseball.”
Los Angeles will send right-hander Lance Lynn (10-9, 5.56 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. Lynn has gone 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA in five starts since joining the Dodgers from the Chicago White Sox at the trade deadline.
In seven career starts against the Braves, Lynn is 4-3 with a 3.32 ERA. He faced Atlanta on July 15 with the White Sox, and he got a win despite yielding four runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Lynn will have to contend with an Atlanta offense that hit three home runs against the Rockies on Wednesday and already has a franchise-record 250 home runs on the season. It isn’t even September. And Lynn leads the majors with 34 home runs allowed.
“I don’t think anyone’s going up there trying to (hit a home run). I don’t think we’re aware of it,” Kevin Pillar said on the Bally Sports broadcast after he hit one of the Braves‘ homers Wednesday.
“I just think we have really good hitters with good approaches and when they get good pitches, they don’t miss them. … Guys prepare really hard and work really hard, and it shows.”
The Braves will send right-hander Spencer Strider (15-4, 3.46 ERA) to the mound on Thursday. Strider is 4-1 in five August starts with a 2.37 ERA. He has been even better in his past three outings, going 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA while pitching seven innings each time. He is tied for the major league lead in wins.
Strider faced the Dodgers on May 23 and gave up four runs (two earned) on five hits over six innings while absorbing the loss. He struck out 11 and walked three. In his only other start against Los Angeles, Strider went six scoreless innings last season in a no-decision.
While the Dodgers are having one of the best months in franchise history, the Braves have gone an impressive 20-8 in August.
—Field Level Media