LOS ANGELES – Julio Teheran against two-time reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw tonight might not be the marquee, must-see matchup that it was a year ago when they squared off a year ago on the final day of July, but that’s just fine with the Braves, all things considering.
In case you haven’t heard, the Braves and Teheran will face Kershaw tonight at Dodger Stadium at a time when Kershaw has been uncharacteristically human, entering with a 2-3 record and 4.32 ERA in nine starts. This from a guy who led the NL in ERA each of the previous four seasons, with a high of 2.53 in that period and a low of 1.77 in his 21-win season in 2014 (after 1.83 in 2013).
The left-hander is 1-1 with a 5.49 ERA in his past three starts, allowing 19 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings in that period, including seven hits and four runs in 7 1/3 innings of a loss at San Francisco on Thursday. That explains why the Dodgers considered trading him to the Braves in a deal involving Alberto Callaspo.
Ha. Just checking to see if you’re still with me.
The Callaspo proposed trade for Juan Uribe, which was blocked by Callaspo, is covered here in the story I wrote this morning after the deal fell apart.
While Kershaw has struggled on the road, it should be noted, he’s 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA and .235 opponents’ average in four starts at Dodger Stadium, all quality starts. Not up to his lofty standards, but more-than-respectable home numbers.
And, of course, there is his history against the Braves: Kershaw is 2-0 with a stingy 1.75 ERA in seven career starts against the Braves, including 1-0 with a 2.11 ERA in five regular-season starts and 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA (and .130 opponents’ average) in two postseason starts.
The two playoff starts came in a four-day span in the 2013 division series, and his regular-season win against them came in his only start against them since then, last season when Kershaw pitched a nine-hit complete game with nine strikeouts and no walks in a 2-1 win against Teheran on July 31 at Dodger Stadium. So, yes, lately he’s absolutely dominated the Braves, albeit a largely different lineup than he’ll face tonight.
Freddie Freeman is 2-for-6 with a homer in his career (regular season) against Kershaw, the only active Brave with a homer off the left-hander. Eric Young Jr. (4-for-16, five walks) is the only other current active Brave with more than two hits against Kershaw, and figures to get the start in center tonight considering Cameron Maybin is 2-for-24 with seven strikeouts against Kershaw.
Jonny Gomes is 2-for-13 with six strikeouts against Kershaw, and Callaspo is 1-for-5 with four strikeouts against him.
• Braves’ woes vs. Dodgers: Their 6-3 loss Monday left the Braves 1-7 with a 4.70 ERA against the Dodgers since the beginning of the 2014 season, and they’ve hit .249 and been outscored 37-21 in those games. The Braves haven’t scored more than four runs against them in that stretch, while the Dodgers have totaled six or more runs in four of the eight games.
The Braves are 0-4 at Dodger Stadium in that period and have been out-homered 7-2 in those games.
The Braves also lost both games played at Dodger Stadium during their four-game division-series defeat in 2013. Counting those games, the Braves are 2-10 with 35 runs and four homers in their past 12 games against the Dodgers, including 0-6 at Dodger Stadium.
• Teheran coming around: The Braves hope Teheran continues his recent performance, a major improvement since his disappointing April. He’s 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA in four May starts, and six of his eight runs allowed this month came in one five-inning outing May 9 at Washington.
Teheran has 0.96 ERA in his other three May starts, with 20 strikeout and four walks in 18 2/3 innings of those games, including seven innings of two-hit ball Thursday against Milwaukee, when he allowed one walk and one run with eight strikeouts.
Against the Dodgers, Teheran is 0-2 with a 4.11 ERA in two regular-season starts, both last season. He pitched an eight-inning complete game in the July 31 loss to Kershaw at Dodger Stadium, allowing five hits (one homer), two runs and three walks with nine strikeouts in 118 pitches. On Aug. 11 at Turner Field, Teheran allowed nine hits and five runs in 7 1/3 innings.
Teheran got blasted in his only postseason start against the Dodgers, when he allowed eight hits and six runs in just 2 2/3 innings against them in a Game 3 loss at Dodger Stadium in the 2013 division series.
He won’t have to face injured Yasiel Puig, who is 4-for-6 with a homer against Teheran. Jimmy Rollins is 7-for-22 with a homer against him, and Adrian Gonzalez is 3-for-7.
• Freeman back home: The Braves hope Freeman, a Southern California native, can get back in a solid groove during this series at a venue where he’s always hit well. He had two hits in Monday’s series opener, including an RBI single that bounced past the glove of a defender playing in shallow right field in a defensive shift.
The RBI was just the fifth in his past 14 games for Freeman, who is 14-for-54 (.259) with no homers, a .365 OBP and .315 slugging percentage in that stretch. He’s hardly along in the power-outage: The Braves have one just one homer in their past 10 games, but still have a 7-3 record in that span due to some outstanding pitching and timely hits.
As mentioned above, Freeman is 2-for-6 with a homer in his career against tonight’s starter, Clayton Kershaw. And there will be plenty of Freeman family and friends on hand, as there was for Monday night’s series opener, when his wife, dad, and a brother were all on the field before the game.
Freeman has hit .419 (18-for-43) in his past 11 games against the Dodgers, including 11-for-29 (.379) with two doubles, a homer and six RBIs in seven games at Dodger Stadium.
He has .301 career average and .374 OBP in 27 games against the Dodgers, including .339 (20-for-59) with four doubles, three homers, nine RBIs and a .391 OBP and .559 slugging percentage in 15 games at Dodger Stadium.
• Masset vs. Dodgers: Recent Braves bullpen addition Nick Masset and the Dodgers are not a good mix, at least not for Masset and any team the veteran right-hander is pitching for at the time.
After giving up three homers in the eighth inning of Monday’s 6-3 loss to the Dodgers, Masset has a 10.71 ERA and .349 opponents’ average in 21 appearances against the Dodgers, with 29 hits (seven homers), 11 walks and 23 earned runs allowed in 19 1/3 innings.
In his past seven appearances against the Dodgers, Masset has a 15.43 ERA and .455 opponents’ average, with 15 hits and 12 earned runs allowed in seven innings. He gave up at least three earned runs in three of those seven appearances, and his teams lost the last six of those games.
Masset had allowed only one homer in nine previous appearances at Dodger Stadium, and last night’s three-homer barrage came after he’d not given up a run in 26 innings over 25 appearances going back to mid-August when he was with the Rockies.
• Let’s close with this great tune from the highly underrated Simone Felice. This guy’s pretty terrific. (Sorry, I couldn’t find the lyrics and didn’t have time to transcribe them myself before heading to ballpark.)
“IF YOU GO TO L.A.” by Simone Felice