Home Sports 5 things you need to know about the weekend in MLB: Dodgers defeat Braves, Phillies’ Trea Turner injured and more

5 things you need to know about the weekend in MLB: Dodgers defeat Braves, Phillies’ Trea Turner injured and more

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5 things you need to know about the weekend in MLB: Dodgers defeat Braves, Phillies' Trea Turner injured and more

If you weren’t watching baseball this weekend, we won’t judge you, but you missed a lot of action.

Here are the key takeaways from this weekend’s series.

Most baseball insiders will tell you that the best team in the MLB is the Braves or the Dodgers.

Well, this weekend, Los Angeles made that debate a little less interesting by sweeping Atlanta at Dodger Stadium. The Braves stayed close on Friday, but were outscored in the last two games and suddenly find themselves 2.5 games behind Philadelphia in the NL East.

Both the Dodgers and Braves have comically loaded offensive units, but the difference in starting pitching is stark. This weekend, Los Angeles starters Gavin Stone, Tyler Glasnow and James Paxton outpitched the Atlanta trio of Charlie Morton, Bryce Elder and Max Fried. What’s more, this was the first time since Spencer Strider went down for the rest of the season due to a UCL tear that you could really see how the loss of the mustachioed flamethrower will affect Atlanta in the postseason.

Morton is phenomenal for a 40-year-old, but he’s far from an ace at this point in his career. Elder showed last fall that with his current pitching staff, he is not capable of starting a playoff game. And Fried, who has been one of the game’s most consistent pitchers over the past half-decade, hasn’t looked like himself so far this season. Reynaldo Lopez and Chris Sale, Atlanta’s two postseason acquisitions, have pitched incredibly well so far, but this Strider-less rotation is simply worse than Los Angeles’ (not to mention Philadelphia’s). It’s also worth noting that the Dodgers are actually missing more innings right now, with Walker Buehler, Bobby Miller, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Clayton Kershaw all on the shelf due to injuries.

The first-place Phillies, who have won 16 of their last 19 games, won all three home games against San Francisco over the weekend. But it wasn’t all peaches, rainbows and butterflies at Citizens Bank Park: Shortstop Trea Turner sprained his left hamstring on Friday and will be sidelined for about six weeks. Turner had been the club’s second-best offensive force so far this season, an encouraging development after the disastrous start to his tenure with the Phillies a year ago. His injury will force utility man Edmundo Sosa into action as an everyday shortstop for now. Second baseman Bryson Stott emerged at shortstop and played there during Philadelphia’s stretch run in 2022, but captain Rob Thomson said he plans to keep Stott at the corner most of the time.

The struggling Blue Jays head to Philadelphia this week, setting up the upbeat Phillies for another likely series win. But a soft opening schedule, dominant starting pitching and the offensive breakthrough of Alec Bohm have helped overshadow the slow starts of some Philadelphia stalwarts. Turner’s extended absence means veterans like JT Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber and especially Nick Castellanos will have to pick up the slack. For the first time in more than half a decade, the Braves look somewhat vulnerable atop the NL East, and the division could be owned by Philadelphia, but promotion just got tougher with Turner on the mend.

A week ago there was unrest in Birdland. Not with the lineup (Baltimore’s offense was, and still is, disintegrating baseballs), but on the pitching side. The O’s staff was buried under a mountain of questions. Who would step up in the bullpen after closer Craig Kimbrel recorded two saves in three days? What would Kyle Bradish and John Means, two of Baltimore’s best starters when healthy, look like in their first starts after major injuries? Would the O’s run prevention be affected if second-year right-hander Grayson Rodriguez went on the disabled list?

What a difference a weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio can make. In 27 innings this weekend, Baltimore pitchers allowed exactly one run. The starters allowed none. Cole Irvin continued his magnificent early season run on Friday; only one Red (Elly De La Cruz) reached base in 6⅓ strong frames from Irvin. Then Means, who hadn’t been fully healthy for an extended period since late 2021, looked sensational in his season debut on Saturday. The left-hander struck out eight of seven without allowing a score, allowing only three Reds to reach base.

Dean Kremer finished the sweep on Sunday, allowing just one hit and one walk in six scoreless. And the bullpen, which this writer referred to as “exposed and understaffed” a week ago, was perfect, save for Kimbrel’s difficult outing on Saturday. Baltimore’s pitching, which many prognosticators considered the most vulnerable part of the team, now looks incredibly solid. Of course, the regular season is long and riddled with injuries, but a potential October rotation led by Corbin Burns, Rodriguez and Bradish (who looked solid in his return Thursday against the Yankees) and backed by Means, Kremer and Irvin could be pretty good. shocking when autumn arrives.

Friday night at Minute Maid Park felt like old times. Houston swept Seattle’s bullpen by four spots in the seventh inning and took the first game 5-3. But these Astros, who are now seven games behind the Mariners in the American League West, are 10 games under .500 for a reason. Seattle’s lanky pitcher Logan Gilbert shut out José Altuve, Yordan Álvarez, Alex Bregman and company on Saturday before Cal Raleigh’s ninth-inning shot off Josh Hader gave the Mariners the series on Sunday.

The Mariners’ offense has some issues (Josh Rojas has been their best hitter by a mile) but this pitching staff is very, very good. Seattle travels to Minnesota this week to face the Twins, winners of 12 straight entering Sunday. Meanwhile, Houston heads to the Bronx to face the Yankees. A sweep at the hands of their longtime rivals could be a true death sentence for the Astros, even if it is early in the season.

After a late-night trade sent Luis Arráez from Miami to San Diego on Friday, the high-average wizard had four hits in his debut game with the Padres on Saturday. His arrival, along with the suddenly super-hot Jurickson Profar, makes San Diego’s lineup even deeper.

However, the Padres still have some questions on the mound: Knuckleballer Matt Waldron was hit in a blowout loss on Sunday. This week, San Diego heads to Chicago for a fascinating matchup against the Cubs.

  • The Cubs and Brewers should play a 99-game series in the NL Central. Heading against his former club for the first time after a shocking move to Chicago over the winter, Craig Counsell led the Cubs to a well-deserved series victory over their division foes.

  • Minnesota’s sausage-fueled 12-game winning streak was snapped by the Red Sox on Sunday, but the Twins’ hot streak returned them to the middle of the American League Central.

  • The Rangers rebounded from a weak offensive performance on Friday to defeat the Royals on Saturday before barely winning the series on Sunday. Texas’ pitching staff has performed admirably while waiting for Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom to come off the disabled list this summer.

  • The Yankees swept the Tigers with 9⅔ scoreless frames from their bullpen and a clutch double from Juan Soto on Sunday.

  • The Rays’ radical, fluorescent City Connect uniforms and signs of life from feisty Randy Arozarena propelled them to sweep the scrambled Mets.

  • Pittsburgh’s offense sucks right now, but they won a series anyway because the Rockies aren’t good either. Pirates rookie phenom Jared Jones was masterful again in a 1-0 win on Saturday.

  • It’s officially panic time in Toronto; The Blue Jays lost a series in DC to the troubled Nationals despite jumping out to an early 5-1 lead on Sunday. Embattled Toronto pitcher Alek Manoah lost his lead in his first MLB start of the season.

  • The frisky A’s managed to get to .500 on Saturday with a 20-run performance, but couldn’t finish the sweep against Miami.

  • Cleveland talisman José Ramírez hit the go-ahead home run after a 10-pitch at-bat Sunday to push the Guardians past the Angels. Unfortunately, the Guards out of the gate had to put early catalyst Steven Kwan on the injured list due to a hamstring issue.

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