The Los Angeles Dodgers are coming off a weekend sweep of the rival San Francisco Giants in which they seized control of the National League West. With a Giants loss on Monday the Dodgers now own a two-game lead for the first time all season.
The Atlanta Braves come into town for the first time since the Dodgers eliminated them in the NLDS last year. On the mound to face them will be Josh Beckett who is looking to move on from his worst outing of the season.
Beckett, 34, has been dealing with a left hip impingement that landed him on the disabled list over the All-Star break. The right-hander looked a little rusty and lasted only 3 2/3 innings Tuesday in Pittsburgh. He was shelled for four runs and six hits without resembling the pitcher the Dodgers saw for the first three months of the season.
“I was ready to pitch,” Beckett said. “The trainers cleared me. The doctors cleared me. I just didn’t pitch well and I put the guys coming in behind in a tough spot because they had to pitch way too many innings.”
Unless the trade deadline nets the Dodgers another arm for the rotation, Beckett will need to shoulder the load of the back end. The middle innings of the bullpen combined with short outings from Beckett and Dan Haren could spell disaster for the club down the stretch. Tuesday will be an important start for Beckett to overcome his physical issues against a playoff team.
True to form for the season, the Dodgers have only won three of Beckett’s 10 starts at Dodger Stadium. Beckett is 0-4 with a 3.30 ERA in his last five home starts and has only one win to his credit all year in Los Angeles despite a 2.70 ERA.
The Braves will send Aaron Harang to the bump who has bolstered their starting staff with a 9-6 record and a 3.31 ERA. When Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy were shut down early in the season it looked like Atlanta would have rotation problems. Harang stepped into the gap and it has turned out to be one of the better signings in Spring.
The former Dodger has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 16 of his 21 starts which is tied for fourth in all of baseball. The 36-year-old has only accomplished that more in two (2007, 2011) of his 13 seasons.