After a stretch that netted four wins in five games, the Atlanta Braves are above the .500 mark on Memorial Day. That is, of course, the "traditional" date by which it is accepted to evaluate a team's record moving forward, and with Fredi Gonzalez's club only 3.5 games back of the NL East-leading Washington Nationals, things are getting interesting.
This week, however, the schedule begins to tighten up a bit, and that begins with a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the road. The trio of games in LA begins a stretch of ten consecutive road games with no break for the Braves, and to make matters worse, the Dodgers currently lead the NL West with the second-best record in the league at 26-17.
While it is usually a big-time positive when Atlanta can deploy both Julio Teheran and Alex Wood in a single three-game series, that advantage is entirely mitigated by Los Angeles and their ability to toss by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. On the bright side, the four pitchers will square off against one another in the final two games of the series, leveling the playing field a bit, but given the unfriendly venue for the Braves, it could be an uphill battle against two of the game's best.
The opener is much more of an unknown, as newcomer Williams Perez will make his second MLB start against Brett Anderson for the Dodgers. Perez was effective in his starting debut, allowing only one run over five innings against the Tampa Bay Rays last week, but this is a steep uptick in competition, and it will be interesting to see how the 24-year-old responds outside of Turner Field. In the case of Anderson, the former uber-prospect has battled all kinds of injury issues throughout his career, but the now 27-year-old has been quite effective in eight starts, and the Braves could run into a buzzsaw if they aren't careful.
Even with the unofficial "opening" of the season on Memorial Day, it is important to put each game and series in context this time of year, and that will be the case of the Braves fall on the wrong end of a game or two in Los Angeles. Still, there is always something fun and interesting about playing in Dodger Stadium late into the night on the East Coast, and the Braves and Dodgers have some recent history to increase the angst a bit. Regardless of outcome, the interest level in this series should be high.
Stay tuned throughout the series for in-depth coverage in this space.
Monday, May 25 at 8:10 PM EST
ATL: Williams Perez
2015: 0-0, 6.14 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 11.05 K/9, 6.14 BB/9 (2nd MLB start)
LAD: Brett Anderson
2015: 2-2, 3.61 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 6.59 K/9, 1.91 BB/9
Tuesday, May 26 at 10:00 PM EST
ATL: Julio Teheran
2015: 4-1, 3.91 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 8.35 K/9, 3.38 BB/9
LAD: Clayton Kershaw
2015: 2-3, 4.32 ERA, 2.89 FIP, 11.26 K/9, 2.47 BB/9
Wednesday, May 27 at 10:10 PM EST
ATL: Alex Wood
2015: 2-2, 3.83 ERA, 3.34 FIP, 6.13 K/9, 3.06 BB/9
LAD: Zack Greinke
2015: 5-1, 1.48 ERA, 3.06 FIP, 7.23 K/9, 1.77 BB/9