MIAMI -- The Braves headed home from Miami on Thursday evening with some mixed emotions.
On one hand, Atlanta swept Miami, getting the series finale win with a 6-3 victory on Thursday afternoon, and Marcell Ozuna had a breakout performance (6-for-13 with three homers in the series). But in the process, the Braves lost righty Kyle Wright (right shoulder inflammation) to the IL for the second time in just over a month, and headed home with Michael Harris II (jammed right knee) day to day.
“It's just really, really good [to finish the road trip 5-1],” manager Brian Snitker said. “But this was a rough road trip. I mean, the Marlins are playing really good. … This was a tough series coming in here.”
After using five bullpen arms on Wednesday following Wright’s third-inning exit, the Braves needed a boost. They got just that from Dylan Dodd, who was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to make a spot start.
“It was pretty crazy,” Dodd said. “I rushed over to the ballpark [after I got the call yesterday], threw, and then went straight to the airport. Ended up having a delay, and then ended up getting here -- not terrible, I think it was like 10:30 [p.m. ET] or so.”
Dodd, Atlanta’s No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline, delivered a quality start while showcasing the maturity and arsenal that propelled him from High-A Rome to Triple-A last year in just 26 starts -- only nine of which came at Double-A Mississippi.
Things didn’t start off easily for Dodd against the Marlins, though. He allowed a single to Jon Berti to lead off the first inning, then gave up a two-run homer to Jorge Soler in the next at-bat. But he rebounded quickly and induced a pair of flyouts. Dodd worked through a few jams against Miami, but those only highlighted the talents that, while perhaps not entirely Major League-ready, are indicative of the southpaw’s bright future.
“Oh my god, that was awesome,” Snitker said of Dodd’s start. “Really big. … I looked up there and it's just -- he just throws strike after strike after strike. Kid's got a good future. As he matures and gets experience -- it's probably not the last time we'll see him this year, so that was really big for us and the bullpen. He left us in really good shape to play a game tomorrow.”
“He had second and third, nobody out and [he] stranded them, kept us there,” catcher Sean Murphy said. “That was huge. That was great -- a lot of maturity. He didn't let it get too fast and snowball on him, and he just kept pitching and he minimized and did great.”
Murphy was describing the fifth inning, when Dodd allowed his first walk to lead off the inning, then gave up a single and an RBI double to the top of the order. That could rattle anyone, but Dodd held his own. He induced a pair of flyouts to his corner outfielders, who have such powerful arms they were able to keep speedster and reigning stolen-base champ Jon Berti on third base.
“He just throws another strike,” Snitker said. “He doesn't get rattled or anything, and a pretty good hitter he gave up a homer to [in the first inning]. I noticed that in the spring -- you might get whacked around, but he comes right back and gets in the strike zone. So that was really impressive, and it was a huge, huge lift for us today.”
Dodd gave up three runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings. That’s deceptive though, because Dodd didn’t issue a walk until the fifth inning, which only happened after Peyton Burdick worked an 11-pitch at-bat.
Part of Dodd’s ability to generate results is because he can throw strikes. He had a 62% first-pitch-strike rate against the Marlins; MLB average is 60.6%, and entering Thursday, the average for Braves starters was 61.4%. Dodd was successfully getting to two-strike counts (he got ahead with two strikes 12 times), but he wasn’t getting that third swing-and-miss. So back to work he goes.
“I think for me to really get a lot better, I think it comes to getting more swing and miss,” Dodd said. “I do a pretty good job of attacking the zone and filling it up and getting guys to 0-2, but recently I've been struggling to get the third swing and miss.”
“It's good building blocks,” Murphy said. “And good stuff -- he can learn a lot from that.”