As expected the Braves have left second baseman Dan Uggla off their NLDS roster, meaning they’d rather face the Dodgers without their highest-paid player. Uggla hit .179 this season and was completely helpless since returning from eye surgery, going 8-for-60 (.133) with 25 strikeouts.
Along with Uggla the Braves also left off Paul Maholm, who started 26 games during the regular season, and Scott Downs, who was acquired from the Angels to provide a left-handed bullpen option in the late innings.
Instead of relying on Maholm for a potential Game 4 start the Braves will apparently turn to Freddy Garcia, who was bouncing around between Triple-A teams a month ago and then tossed 27 innings with a 1.65 ERA down the stretch. Garcia is also 36 years old with a 4.84 ERA in 188 total innings since the beginning of last season, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is a big believer in recent performances being meaningful.
Which is why Downs likely missed the cut. He’s been one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball for almost a decade, posting a combined 2.33 ERA in 447 appearances since 2007, but Downs had a 3.86 ERA and 15/8 K/BB ratio in 14 innings for the Braves.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.