Last night, Michael Harris II and the NL East leading Atlanta Braves opened up a three-game home set with Mookie Betts and the NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night.
Dodgers Strike First
After a 40-minute rain delay, the Braves and Dodgers finally got to work. The Braves put up four runs in the bottom half of the first, but it was mostly Mookie and the Dodgers from there on out.
The Dodgers would put up eight runs when it was all said and done, going home with the 8-6 victory. Michael Harris went 0-4 with two strikeouts while Mookie was 1-4 with a hit, walk, run and RBI. Harris and the Braves will look to even the series tonight.
These teams have faced off in two of the last three National League Championship Series, so the excitement around this matchup could be felt from both fan bases. Albeit early in the season, it’s always good to see how your squad fares against a team that potentially stands between you and a trip to the World Series.
Now Bleacher Report blessed us with an exclusive conversation between Betts and Harris before their teams matched up Monday night, but let’s take a closer look at this clash between these two baseball titans who reside 2,189 miles apart.
Braves Continue to Build A Contender
The Braves have continued to be one of the most consistent franchises in North American professional sports, cultivating a culture that has created one of the most fun teams to watch in all of baseball.
Even Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts took note last summer while showing some love to center fielder Michael Harris II. “They can pitch, they can catch it. That Harris kid out there in center field, he’s a game changer out there. They have some slug. They have a lot of guys that play the game the right way. It’s just fun playing against those guys.”
Harris came into this season looking to build on his rookie campaign and has packed on an additional 10 pounds of muscle to his six-foot frame in order to endure the rigors of a 162-game season. Harris has struggled to find his form from last season, but the Braves haven’t missed a beat.
Atlanta is 29-18 as of Tuesday (May 22) and have dominated an NL East division that was expected to be highly competitive. The Mets are five games behind Atlanta in the standings with 10 head-to-head matchups remaining this season.
Dodgers Payola Continues to be Fruitful
Despite numerous injuries to key players on their pitching staff as well as the lineup, the Dodgers have been able to power through it all to remain atop the NL West.
A major reason for their success despite these setbacks has been the play of their Gold Glove outfielder turned utility infielder Mookie Betts. Betts’ versatility has come in clutch for LA, who have used their superstar in spot starts at short.
Even with the added pressure of playing a premier defensive position, Betts has continued to shine at the plate for the Dodgers. One aspect of his game that has remained elite is his patience at the plate. According to baseballsavant.com, Betts is currently ranked in the 89th percentile in walk percentage, 85th percentile in whiff percentage and the 99th percentile in chase rate.
His average has dipped to .250, but his xBA of .281 gives us hope that some of these balls he has hit directly at defenders will eventually start falling for hits.