Dodgers feel Hudson's absence immediately

Smith ties game with late homer, but Graterol can't hold off Braves

June 26th, 2022

ATLANTA -- Daniel Hudson and the Dodgers got bad news Saturday morning. Tests revealed that Hudson sustained a torn ACL in the eighth inning on Friday and will miss the remainder of the season.

On Saturday night, Hudson’s absence was felt immediately when Brusdar Graterol allowed a go-ahead two-run homer to Marcell Ozuna in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ 5-3 loss to the Braves at Truist Park.

“In that spot right there, I liked Brusdar,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He’s one of our guys. He’s going to keep having a runway. And the expectation is for him to go out and perform.”

Before the game, Roberts acknowledged that losing Hudson was a “huge blow” to the team. He wouldn’t say which pitcher will directly replace Hudson in the bullpen's pecking order, but added that multiple relievers will need to step up in order to make up for Hudson’s stellar production this season.

Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia and David Price will get increased roles. Price was thrust into an unusual situation Saturday, facing four right-handers in a scoreless sixth inning. Vesia pitched in the fifth inning, a bit earlier than normal.

All three of those pitchers performed well following starter Mitch White’s four-plus innings. Graterol will also be an integral part of the Dodgers’ plans, as Roberts alluded to. The hard-throwing righty has all the tools, but has been inconsistent at times this season.

He relieved Hudson on Friday and induced a big double play to keep the Dodgers in the lead. On Saturday, however, Graterol allowed a leadoff double to Travis d’Arnaud in the eighth inning. Two pitches later, he left a slider over the middle of the plate to Ozuna, who blasted it over the center-field wall.

“We felt bad for [Hudson], but we just have to keep motivating each other,” Graterol said in Spanish. “They’ve given me their confidence to pitch in those innings and I’ve tried to take advantage of it. Things happen and there are good days and bad days.”

The two-run homer off Graterol ultimately nullified a solid effort from the Dodgers to erase a 3-0 deficit against Braves left-hander Max Fried, who allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings. In the seventh, the stage was set for former Brave Freddie Freeman. With the Dodgers down 3-2 and the bases loaded, Freeman struck out against Atlanta reliever Will Smith.

“I’m on a visiting team. You expect it,” Freeman said of the boos around Truist Park. “I’m not going to get cheers for six years.”

In the eighth, however, Dodgers catcher Will Smith tied the game, smashing a solo homer off left-hander A.J. Minter. But it wasn’t enough for the Dodgers, who saw their four-game winning streak snapped.

“I thought it was a heck of a ballgame,” Roberts said. “We put ourselves in position against one of the game’s best, to kind of wait [Fried] out to get back in the ballgame.”

Over the last month, the Dodgers have navigated through a flurry of injuries. Mookie Betts and Walker Buehler, two of the best players in the league at their respective positions, lead the group of players the Dodgers have been without.

Hudson doesn’t have the star power that Betts and Buehler do; hardly anybody in the Majors does. But with the way the Dodgers are built, inconsistencies with parts of the bullpen and injuries to Blake Treinen and Tommy Kahnle, losing Hudson for the season will be difficult for the Dodgers to overcome.

That was on full display Saturday.

“There’s nothing else we can do about it,” Roberts said before the game. “This is where we’re at right now. For us to give any other thought to it being unusual, there’s nothing else to do but move forward. So the 26 guys that are on this roster, we’re going to try to find a way to win and we’re going do the same thing [on Sunday]."