The Dodgers will return home tonight after their first road trip of the year to host the Atlanta Braves for a 3 game series. They ended their trip with a record of 3-3 after taking 2 of 3 from the Houston Astros and losing 2 of 3 in a tough series against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers were on the verge of sweeping the Astros yesterday, but instead suffered their worst loss of this early season, 12-0. They looked as if they had already packed their bags to return home. The Chad Billingsley who had pitched brilliant in his first 3 starts was nowhere to be found during this game; he finished with 3.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, and 2 SO. The Dodgers bats were also “MIA” as they were shut down by the Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez who only allowed 3 hits in 7 innings pitched.
The Dodgers will have their hands full tonight against the Braves, as they look to rebound from that embarrassing loss. The Braves are 10-6 on the year so far and are looking to stay hot after taking 3 of 4 from the Arizona Diamondbacks over the weekend. Jair Jurrjens will take the mound tonight for Atlanta, who is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in 3 starts this season. Don’t let these numbers fool you, last year before the all-star break he was an early favorite to win the NL CY Young award, until an injury ended his season early. He still finished last year with a 13-6 record and 2.96 ERA. This guy is capable of being a top of the line starter when he has his stuff working, so we’ll see which Jair Jurrjens shows up at Dodger Stadium tonight. The Dodgers will send Chris Capuano to the mound tonight, who has pitched exceptionally well early on this season with a 1-0 record and 4.50 ERA.
The lefty Capuano will be facing a tough lineup from top to bottom, featuring guys like Dan Uggla, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, and Chipper Jones. This lineup could be labeled as one of the toughest in the National League, with power coming from everywhere in the lineup. The Dodgers bullpen will be HUGE for them in this series, despite the early struggles that have been put on display. Scott Elbert, who is the only left hander in the Dodgers bullpen, is someone to keep an eye on during this series. He has only appeared in 5 games this year, posting a 5.40 ERA in the 3.1 innings he has pitched in. The Braves have two left-handed hitters in Freeman and Heyward who can do some damage with runners on base late in the game, which is why Elbert will be a key to the Dodgers success in this series. If he is called upon to face these guys in a situation late in the game, he MUST come through; being the only lefty Don Mattingly has in the bullpen to face left-handed hitters. So the Dodgers will look to rebound tonight, but will also be looking to add-on to their perfect 6-0 record at home.