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Dodgers vs Braves preview: Alex Wood returns to face old rotation-mate

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Alex Wood and not Julio Teheran, but Williams Perez (!), will square off in a battle of former rotation mates for the Braves in tonight's series opener with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Right in the feels
Right in the feels
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off of sweeping the Marlins down in Miami and a day of rest, the Braves return home tonight for a matchup with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The pitching matchup will certainly intrigue: former Braves hurler Alex Wood will take the ball for the visitors and square off against Julio Teheran, who has struggled mightily to begin the 2016 season, Williams Perez, who will be pitching on short rest after getting just 13 outs in the Braves' first win of the season last Friday night against the Marlins.

(Teheran has been scratched with a sickness:

I hope he feels better, because being sick is the actual worst.)

This will, of course, be Wood's first start in Atlanta (or against the Braves) since the oft-discussed trade that brought Hector Olivera over from Los Angeles. Wood has not exactly thrived in a Los Angeles uniform, putting up a 4.37 ERA / 4.15 FIP / 3.83 xFIP, as compared to 3.10/3.19/3.46 during his time as a Brave. To compound that, he had a bit of a scare in Spring Training with some inauspicious arm troubles but has bounced back to resume his place in the rotation.

Wood's first two starts have been a bit of a mixed bag: in his season debut he lasted just five innings and allowed five runs (two walks, three strikeouts, eight hits) against the Giants, though two of those runs came when Yimi Garcia was unable to strand a couple of inherited baserunners. His second outing, against Arizona, was much better, featuring seven innings of one run (a solo homer) ball, although he continued to showcase unexciting peripherals (three walks, three strikeouts). He'll need to tick up that strikeout rate and push down his walk rate if he wants to succeed in 2016, and his former team's lineup offers him a decent opportunity to try and do just that.

It's hard to refer to the current Atlanta squad as "Wood's old mates," in part because of the heavy roster turnover, even since July of last season. Specifically, only 14 of the current 25-man roster have played on the same team at the same time as Wood, and some of those (like Eric O'Flaherty) did so prior to the 2015 season. His mound opponent for the game will be Williams Perez.

Perez has not managed to escape the fifth inning in either of his starts this season. He struggled through an outing against the Cardinals, allowing four runs while getting 14 outs (3 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts, one homer allowed), and followed that up with more of the same in a game the Braves would eventually win against the Marlins (4.1 innings, 8 hits, 2 walks, 3 runs, 1 strikeout). Perez has proven to be a below-replacement level pitcher so far in the majors, and while his junkballing can lead to high drama and occasional entertainment, he'll have to pitch better against a good Dodgers team, and in general, if he wants to stick in the rotation.

Teheran has allowed 13 runs (12 earned) in 17 innings so far, giving up four homers and pairing eight walks with 14 strikeouts. Teheran's decent Opening Day start against the Nationals (two solo homers in six innings, three walks, four strikeouts) has been followed up by two duds. Once again, lefties have been terrorizing him: his FIP is a respectable 3.03 against righties but 10.47 against lefties, and he's posted a 0.67 K/BB ratio against the 33 lefty hitters he's faced so far. Yikes. The Dodgers have a fair bit of experience with Teheran at this point (over 70 PAs against him, collectively), and Adrian Gonzalez (a lefty) and Yasiel Puig have both homered off of him.

On the offensive side, the Braves will look to get continued contributions from Nick Markakis, who has reached base in each of the 12 games the Braves have played so far, and is beating the snot out of the ball (159 wRC+, .533 slugging). Freddie Freeman and Jace Peterson, who each went 2-for-4 in the series capper with the Marlins, will try to extend those small stretches of success after rough starts to the season.

Overall, it could be a tough series for the Braves. The Dodgers have the 6th-best record in baseball and are tied for first place at the moment (with the Rockies!) via an 8-5 record. They've won three of their first four series, including that historic shutout sweep of the Padres to begin the season. They've had good production from both their lineup and pitching staff (top 10 in both), and will run Clayton Kershaw out there during Thursday's series-closing day game.

Game Info

Game Date/Time: Tuesday, April 19, 7:10 p.m. ET

Location: Turner Field

TV: Fox Sports South

Radio: WYAY 106.7, Braves Radio Network, 680 AM/93.7 FM