With their division rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks, breathing down their necks for the NL West lead, the Los Angeles Dodgers picked up their second win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday. The two teams will meet two more times in their all-important four game series, the next of which is today (7:10 PM ET Saturday).
The Dodgers have needed their victories given the Diamondbacks are just behind them in the standings. The teams are separated by just 1.5 games entering today. As for the Braves, they could have used those wins as well. Like the Dodgers, Atlanta is in a tight race for their division, only unlike the Dodgers, they find themselves the ones trailing. It wasn’t always that way as just prior to the All Star Game, the Braves led the NL East over the Philadelphia Phillies. A recent poor stretch has seen the tide turn and it is Philadelphia that holds first place by 2.5 games.
So far in this series, the Dodgers have got off to a 2-0 lead behind the efforts of stellar pitching and offense. In Game 1, 13-year-veteran Rich Hill, took the mound for LA, having one of the best starts of the season. Hill surrendered just three hits and one walk in seven scoreless innings. He also had eight strikeouts. Offensively, the Dodgers backed Hill’s excellent effort by scoring eight runs on 12 hits, including two off the bats of Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal, Chris Taylor and Alex Verdugo.
Atlanta on the other hand, continued to struggle as they have since returning from the break (2-4). The Braves only mustered seven hits and just two runs behind the outing of Anibal Sanchez. Offensively, the Braves couldn’t muster much but more than that, it was Atlanta’s defense that proved costly. The team recorded three errors, which is tied for their season high.
Continuing to have issues scoring, the Braves were faced with a tough task in Game 2. Clayton Kershaw isn’t having his typical lights out season but he is still one of the toughest guys to face in baseball. Kershaw’s pitch arsenal is lethal and that was on display Friday night. The 10-year veteran, all of which has been spent with the Dodgers, pitched a season-high 7.2 innings, continuing to work his way back from injury. Kershaw gave up just six hits and one run in that span, while also striking out eight, tied for his second best mark of the season. With Kershaw on the mound, scoring was at a premium so the Dodgers didn’t need much in order to win Game 2. This time it was newly-minted Dodger, Manny Machado, who made his first big impact with his new ball club, going 2-for-5, but he wasn’t the only one. In fact, Kershaw handled his own run support, going 1-for-1 at the plate with an additional three walks and two RBI. Kenley Jansen, who leads the league in saves, recorded his 30th after coming in to lock up Kershaw’s win.
Game 3 Pitching Match-Up: (ATL) Max Fried vs (LAD) Alex Wood
Taking the mound for the road team in Game 3 is the 27-year-old Alex Wood. A left-handed pitcher out of Charlotte, North Carolina, Wood is in the midst of his sixth season in the big leagues, half of which is with the Dodgers. Funny enough, the other three years were spent with the team that both drafted and subsequently traded him, the Braves. Against his old team, Wood has an ERA of 6.75, second worst to only his 7.20 ERA against the Tampa Bay Rays who he has faced only once (he has played the Braves three times). Overall on the season, Wood has pitched well, posting a 3.87 ERA and 98 strikeouts. His most recent outing came against the Milwaukee Brewers, where he lasted six innings and gave up two runs on five hits. Wood did walk three and only strike out four however, which is something that he has struggled with this season.
Opposing him for the home team is the 24-year-old Max Fried, only in his second big league season. Also a lefty, Fried has been used as both a starter and bullpen specialist over the last two seasons, finding at times, success with both. In 2018, Fried has appeared in just seven games, having started just three of them. Recently off a stint on the DL for a finger injury, this will be Fried’s first career start against the Dodgers. In his most recent outing, a rehab start with Triple-A Gwinnett Valley, Fried pitched 6.2 scoreless innings and struck out 10.
Our Preview’s LA Dodgers vs Atlanta Braves Game 3 Picks & Betting Predictions Verdict
When this series first began, it seemed unlikely that either team would record a four-game sweep but the Dodgers might be well on their way to doing just that. Up 2-0, LA has looked to be the better team, the caliber of which will bode well in the postseason. Of course, it is only Game 3 and there is no reason to believe that at home, the Braves won’t find a way to turn things around.
Atlanta is actually the slighter better team in terms of hits, runs and fewer strikeouts per game. That hasn’t exactly been on display this series however as the Braves have been outscored 12-3 in the first two games. But as one Braves player has said, this team is capable of turning things around and doing so soon. Atlanta is no doubt in an untimely rut, but they do have the personnel to get back to their winning ways and to do so soon.
Turning to our LA Dodgers vs Atlanta Braves predictions and betting picks, these are our picks to try to beat the bookies that accept Americans:
- Take the Braves to win, besting the 1.5 runs favored to the Dodgers. That’s Atlanta +1.5 @ best odds of -145 with Bovada, Bookmaker, Intertops or Betonline.
- As for the total, neither pitcher set to go today is perfect and given the way LA has been scoring, the Braves offense will really need to break through as well. Look for the over on the projected run total of nine @ best odds of -105 with Bovada, Intertops, BetOnline or 5Dimes.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.