< Previous Page
The Dodgers certainly won’t get any sympathy from the Braves, who lost seven players to season-ending injuries.
Atlanta was bolstered by unlikely contributors such as Evan Gattis, who made the team as a non-roster player in the spring, hit 21 homers and paced all NL rookies with 65 RBIs. He’s expected to bat cleanup against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83 ERA) in the series opener.
Gattis is not alone. The Braves playoff roster is filled with guys who no one would’ve expected just a few months ago. Journeyman Elliot Johnson, acquired off waivers in August, will start at second base. Veteran pitcher Freddy Garcia, purchased from Baltimore late in the season, is set to start Game 4 if the best-of-five series goes that far. Rookie David Hale, who made two September starts after the rosters expanded, made the bullpen as a long reliever.
"We got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys who, coming into the season, a lot of people didn’t expect," catcher Brian McCann said.
There also were some huge disappointments. Three-time All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla hit just .179 and didn’t even make the 25-man squad, despite 22 homers. B.J. Upton was demoted to a backup role in the outfield after batting .184 with nine homers and 26 RBIs.
With Kemp out and Ethier hurting, the Dodgers are counting on veterans such as Young, Skip Schumaker and Jerry Hairston to step up. Plus, they have one of the most exciting — and sometimes exasperating — rookies in the game, 22-year-old Yasiel Puig, who batted .319 with 19 homers and 42 RBIs.
"Matt is a great player," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "But we have a bunch of great players behind him."
Kris Medlen (15-12, 3.11) will start Game 1 for the Braves. He was the loser in last year’s wild-card playoff against the St. Louis Cardinals and struggled a bit early this season, but the Braves are confident he can go pitch-for-pitch with Kershaw.
"Some guys thrive in these situations. Some guys don’t," McCann said. "He’s definitely one of those guys that the bigger the moment, the more he thrives."
Next Page >
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.