After starting the season at 1-2, the Los Angeles Dodgers are now hitting their stride. They are 7-2, riding a six game winning streak and tied for first in the National League West.
As part of that winning streak, the Dodgers swept the Cincinnati Reds in a four game series for the first time since 1975.
In this current winning streak, the Dodgers’ starters have allowed only three earned runs across those six starts. The offense has also caught fire, averaging 6.7 runs per game and have moved up to the second spot in MLB for runs scored.
Now the Dodgers hope to continue their success against the Atlanta Braves, in a series full of storylines. The two teams have met in the NLCS in each of the last two seasons, which each team beating the other to go and win the World Series.
Each team also now has a long time star player on their team from the other team. As Dodger fans well know, Atlanta chose not to re-sign Freddie Freeman, and as such the All-Star first baseman chose to sign a six-year deal with the Dodgers.
Before Monday’s game, Freeman spoke to reporters about what it’s been like getting ready to face his former team.
Of his former General Manager, Freeman said that he and Alex Anthopoulus spoke on FaceTime for three hours, a week after he signed with Los Angeles. “He said his side. I listened. That gave me the closure I needed”. He added, “Our relationship is good … Obviously we’re on different sides now, but the friendship is strong.”
Freeman also spent some time over the in Braves clubhouse before the game on Monday. “Emotions are running big time. I got to see a lot of people over there … I’m just happy to see all the guys,” he told reporters. He also said some guys had told him he’d gotten skinny. He said there were some choked up moments, but once the game started the jitters would end, although it would be weird to see his former teammates batting against his team.
The Braves series will also see the return of Kenley Jansen to Dodger Stadium, after signing a one-year, $16M deal with Atlanta. Both sides were very interested in a reunion when Jansen hit free agency, but the Dodgers needed to make a trade to shed some payroll before they could make an offer to the closer.
Jansen decided that he couldn’t wait, and decided to sign with the Braves, the team he cheered for as a child.
“It was very emotional leaving,” Jansen said in an ESPN article. “Very emotional. But sometimes when opportunities pop up in your life, you have to take them or you’ll always wonder what would’ve happened. Because those opportunities don’t always come back.”
Like Freeman with Atlanta, the Dodgers organization is the only one he’s ever known throughout his pro baseball career. Emotions are sure to be running high if the Braves put him in the position to get the save for his new team.
Asked if Dodgers fans should boo Jansen on his return, manager Dave Roberts said “Absolutely not. He should get a very big standing ovation, because he earned it”. The Dodgers hope that Kenley doesn’t get the opportunity to take the mound in his different uniform, but if he does, Roberts also said lightheartedly that fans could boo him if he converted the save.