Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Series Preview

Atlanta will get a firsthand look at Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig. - Stephen Dunn

After an eight-game homestand, the Braves begin a West Coast road trip with a four-game set against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.

These two teams met for the first time in mid-May in Atlanta, which resulted in a three-game sweep for the Braves. Since that point, the Dodgers have played exactly .500 baseball with a record of 8-8 during that period. However, they are coming off a series win against the Padres in which Los Angeles took two of three from the Friars.

As a team offensively, Los Angeles ranks sixth in the National League in batting average (.255), sixth in on-base average (.323), 11th in slugging percentage (.378), 10th in wOBA (.306), and seventh in wRC+ (97). They're also third in walk rate (8.3%), 11th in strikeout rate (18.8%), and 14th in ISO (122).

The Dodgers have been beat up all season, and the injury bug continues to be a problem heading into this series. On the offensive side, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, and A.J. Ellis are all on the disabled list with various injuries. Crawford leads the team in fWAR, Ellis is second and Kemp is obviously one of the best players in the game when healthy so those are three huge missing pieces for Los Angeles.

Adrian Gonzalez has been the Dodgers' offensive leader this season as he comes in with a triple slash of .328/.383/.513 to with a .377 wOBA, 147 wRC+ and a team leading eight home runs. Both Juan Uribe and Nick Punto have been worth one fWAR this season and have posted similar wRC+'s of 117 and 116 respectively.

Scott Van Slyke has hit for power against both right-handers and left-handers, but has crushed left-handed pitching to the tune of a 1.193 OPS and a 230 wRC+. Andre Ethier has been awful, and has even struggled to hit right-handed pitching.

Luckily for Los Angeles, Hanley Ramirez is back healthy and in the lineup. Also new to the Dodgers' lineup is Yasiel Puig, who has LA in a storm after hitting two home runs in his second career game and making this ridiculous throw in his major league debut.

Pitching Matchups:

Thursday June 6th, 10:10 PM EDT, SportSouth


Tim Hudson

#15 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-1

175

R

R

Jul 14, 1975



Zack Greinke

#21 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-2

190

R

R

Oct 21, 1983


Greinke is back fully healthy after his broken collarbone, but hasn't pitched well at all in his last three starts. He's lasted just 13.1 innings in those three outings while allowing 13 earned runs. Overall, he enters with an ERA of 4.80, a FIP of 3.50, and a xFIP of 4.30.

As usual, Greinke's control is excellent as shown by his 5.8% walk rate, but his strikeout rate is way down from his career average of 21.2% to just 14.4% this season. Another concerning number is his ground-ball rate, which has plummeted to 36.9% after being 46% or higher the last three seasons. Hitters are also squaring the ball up more often against Greinke, sporting a 29% line drive rate this year compared to 20.9% for his career.

In terms of stuff, Greinke has an extremely good and deep arsenal. He throws a four-fastball (average velocity of 91.13 miles per hour), two-seam fastball (91.49 mph), changeup (84.74 mph), slider (82.51 mph), curveball (73.91 mph) and a cutter (87.65 mph). It should be noted that Greinke's velocity is down pretty much across the board compared to last season. He's down almost two miles per hour on average on his four-seam, two-seam, change, and cutter while down almost one mile per hour on his slider.

Usage chart:

Greinke_pitch_usage_medium
Friday June 7th, 10:10 PM EDT. Fox Sports South


Paul Maholm

#28 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-2

220

L

L

Jun 25, 1982



Hyun-Jin Ryu

#99 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-1

215

L

L

Mar 25, 1987


Ryu was scratched from his last scheduled start on Sunday due to a sore foot after a batted ball ricocheted off it in his May 29th outing against the Angels. He was outstanding in that outing, allowing just two hits while walking none and striking out seven in nine innings of shutout work.

On the year, Ryu has an ERA of 2.89, a FIP of 3.20, and a xFIP of 3.47. He's had succes striking batters out, with a strikeout rate of 23.3% while sporting a walk rate of 7.6% to go along with a ground-ball rate of 46.7%.

He throws four pitches: a four-seam fastball (average velocity of 90.69 miles per hour), changeup (79.74 mph), slider (82.61 mph), and a curveball (71.55 mph). Impressively, all three of his off-speed offerings have a whiff/swing rate of 30% or higher, led by his changeup at 31.11%.

Usage chart:

Ryu_pitch_usage_medium

Saturday June 8th, 10:10 PM EDT. Fox Sports South.


Kris Medlen

#54 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

5-10

190

B

R

Oct 07, 1985



Stephen Fife

#59 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-3

220

R

R

Oct 04, 1986


Fife is filling in for the injured Chris Capuano, who is on the disabled list with a strained shoulder. In his two starts this season, Fife has solid peripherals but has had some bad luck on batting average on balls in play. He's only thrown ten innings combined in his two starts, so he's yet to prove he can go deep into games.

He enters with an ERA of 4.50, but has a FIP of 3.56 and a xFIP of 2.98. Fife has a strikeout rate of 23.8% to go with a walk rate of 7.1% and a great ground-ball rate of 59.3%. What's hurting him so far is a .407 BABIP against and a HR/FB rate of 20%.

Fife throws five pitches: a four-seam fastball (average velocity of 90.77 miles per hour), an occasional two-seamer (89.76 mph), changeup (84.45 mph), curveball (77.59 mph), and a cutter (84.81). His curve and cutter are the only two pitches with a whiff/swing rate above 20%, with the curve standing out at 22.22%.

Usage chart:

Fife_pitch_usage_medium

Sunday June 9th, 4:10 PM EDT. Fox Sports South.


Mike Minor

#36 / Pitcher / Atlanta Braves

6-4

205

R

L

Dec 26, 1987



Ted Lilly

#29 / Pitcher / Los Angeles Dodgers

6-1

195

L

L

Jan 04, 1976


Atlanta faces off against soft-tossing lefty Ted Lilly in the series finale. The 37-year old has struggled so far in 2013, as he enters with a 5.09 ERA, 5.19 FIP, and 5.05 xFIP en route to posting a -0.1 fWAR. He's striking out 16.5% of batters while walking 9.2% of them on the year. Always a fly-ball pitcher, Lilly has a 35.4% ground-ball rate on the year, so expect plenty of balls in the air Sunday with him and Minor on the mound.

Lilly throws a four-seam fastball (average velocity of 88.17 miles per hour), two-seam fastball (87.67 mph), changeup (80.17 mph), curveball (71.39 mph), and a cutter (80.97 mph). His change has a massive 43.59 whiff/swing rate on it. Lilly's only other offering that has a whiff/swing rate over 20% is his curve at over 25%.

Usage chart:

X_medium

***All pitch data and usage charts are from the fantastic brooksbaseball.net.***

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