Freddie Freeman, the fan favorite who led the Braves to a World Series championship a year ago, will be wearing a Los Angeles Dodgers' uniform when he returns to Atlanta on Friday night for the start of a three-game series between the two clubs that played for the National League pennant in 2021.The Dodgers won two of the three games between the teams in April in Los Angeles, and both enter the weekend on a roll. Atlanta just won three of four games against San Francisco and has won 18 of its past 21. Los Angeles took all three games from Cincinnati and swept the season series with the Reds for only the third time in franchise history.
Freeman signed with the Dodgers as a free agent, netting $162 million for six years, when he could not come to terms with Atlanta, the organization that made him a second-round draft pick in 2007. Freeman played with the Braves from 2010 to 2021 and was the National League MVP in 2020.
Atlanta replaced Freeman by acquiring Matt Olson from the Oakland A's in the spring and signed him to a long-term contract. The two players, both first basemen who bat from the left side, likely will be compared to each other for the rest of their careers.
This season Freeman is batting .303 with 23 doubles, eight homers and 45 RBIs; he was 4-for-11 with two homers and three RBIs in three games against Atlanta in April. Olson is batting .247 with a major-league-leading 28 doubles, 10 homers and 38 RBIs; he was 4-for-12 with two doubles against the Dodgers in the first meeting.
The pitching matchup will feature Atlanta's Ian Anderson (6-3, 4.35 ERA) against Los Angeles left-hander Julio Urias (4-6, 2.56).
Anderson is on a three-game winning streak. He was outstanding in his most recent start on Sunday against the Chicago Cubs when he worked 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits, two walks and six strikeouts.
"I thought he was really good," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said afterward. "He was really efficient, good command of his fastball. It's just good to get him into the seventh inning. I looked up and his velocity was good going into the seventh."
Anderson's only appearance against the Dodgers came in 2021, when he took a loss after allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
Urias ended a three-game losing streak when he beat the Cleveland Guardians last Saturday. He pitched six innings and allowed one unearned run on two hits, two walks and six strikeouts. He had not won since May 20.
"I don't think we have done a great job giving Julio run support this year," Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes said. "It's easier to pitch with a four-run lead for sure. You can take some chances and not worry about one mistake beating you."
Urias is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in four career appearances, two starts, against Atlanta. Both starts and both wins came last season. But the Braves solved him in the postseason, as Urias was tagged with a blown save in the second game and started and lost the fifth game of the NLCS.
The Braves should be well-rested. Third baseman Austin Riley, right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and left fielder Adam Duvall did not start on Thursday in a 7-6 victory over the Giants.
--Field Level Media