Dodgers return home to face Braves
The Los Angeles Dodgers will return to the more predictable comforts of home Monday, which could pose a challenge for an Atlanta Braves team that feels it might have some of the answers it has been looking for early in the season.
The Dodgers and Braves last met in the National League Division Series last October, won by the Dodgers in four games, and the teams will get together for the first time in 2019 on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles enters after a crushing 8-5 defeat at San Diego on Sunday, when pinch hitter Hunter Renfroe hit a game-ending grand slam. That loss came on the heels of two comeback victories over the Padres and a series defeat at San Francisco.
The Braves enter having just completed a much-needed sweep against the lowly Miami Marlins.
The Dodgers arrive back in their own digs with something of a new look, but have the comfort of knowing they are 12-4 at Dodger Stadium.
Center fielder A.J. Pollock is now on the injured list after elbow surgery to address an infection. Then there is Cody Bellinger, the NL Player of the Month for March/April, who dislocated his shoulder in Friday's game at San Diego.
Bellinger popped the shoulder back into place and later hit a double, but he was held out of the lineup Saturday and Sunday. He says he should be ready to go Monday.
And the Dodgers added catcher Travis d'Arnaud on Sunday to give them a three-catcher look for the time being. The addition of d'Arnaud was partly done to give the Dodgers another right-handed bat after Pollock was lost for an undetermined amount of time.
"We need to get Travis going and see more," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters before Sunday's game. "Once we do that, then it will give us a bit more clarity on how we want to use him. We've always liked him behind the plate, the way he receives and the quality of his at-bats."
The Braves have an injury concern of their own after left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. left Saturday's game against the Marlins with back tightness and did not play Sunday. The Braves said his day of rest was more of a precaution in advance of a cross-country flight to Los Angeles.
No doubt, Acuna would like to be in the lineup Monday. The last time he faced Dodgers scheduled starter Walker Buehler was in Game 3 of last year's NLDS and he hit a grand slam off the right-hander. The Braves went on to win their only game of the series.
"It's been on and off," Acuna said of the back injury through an interpreter, according to MLB.com. "I've felt it for a while, so it wasn't (Saturday). It just kind of grabbed at me after I had a quick swing ... and got out of the box pretty quickly."
Buehler (3-0, 5.22 ERA) gave up five runs on three walks and two hits over five innings in that NLDS game. He has one other regular-season appearance against the Braves, giving up just one run on two hits over 5 1/3 innings last season in a 4-1 victory on June 8.
The Braves will send Kevin Gausman (1-2, 4.83) to the mound. He was ejected from Friday's game at Miami after throwing just 28 pitches and will now have a quick turnaround between starts.
Gausman has just one regular-season outing against the Dodgers in 2016, giving up four runs on eight hits over five innings as a member of the Orioles in a game Baltimore won. He pitched two innings against the Dodgers in the NLDS last year, giving up a two-run home run to Chris Taylor.
--Field Level Media
Updated May 6, 2019