Daily Distractions: National League Division Series Game 3 start times announced.

Dodgers workout

The Dodgers work out Wednesday at Turner Field. (Sarah Reingewirtz/Staff photographer)


The Dodgers will host the Atlanta Braves at 5:07 p.m. Pacific Time Sunday in Game 3, as Major League Baseball updated the start times for both National League Division Series on Thursday. Game 4 start times haven’t been announced yet.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals will play earlier in the day Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1:37 p.m. Pacific Time.

The league seems to be announcing start times roughly 72 hours in advance of each game. Start times for Game 1 today and Friday’s Game 2 were revealed on Monday. Odds are that the start time for Game 4 will be revealed some time tomorrow.

Onto the bullet points:
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Atlanta Braves set National League Division Series roster.

Freddy Garcia

Freddy Garcia made three starts for the Atlanta Braves, pitching well enough to earn a spot on the Braves’ postseason roster. (Getty Images)

The Atlanta Braves announced their roster for the National League Division Series today.

Notably, Dan Uggla is not on the roster. Uggla played 136 games this season, is third on the team with 22 home runs and is owed $13 million this season, making him the highest-paid player on the team. Uggla also batted .179, tied for the lowest average by a major-league regular with Rob Deer, who batted .179 in 1991. Uggla’s defense at second base is among the worst in the league.

Elliot Johnson figures to start at second base tomorrow. Evan Gattis, listed as a catcher below, figures to start in left field.

Another noticeable absence is Paul Maholm, who started 26 games in the regular season. The left-hander went 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA, including a 4.63 ERA (and .312 opponents’ batting average) in four September starts.

Instead, 36-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia will start Game 4 behind Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran. Garcia is on his third team this year, having been released in spring training by the Padres and bought out by the Baltimore Orioles after going 3-5 with a 5.77 ERA. Garcia turned it around in Atlanta, going 1-2 with a 1.65 ERA in six games (three starts).

The complete roster:
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Daily Distractions: Rosters for Atlanta Braves, Dodgers becoming more notable for their expensive absences.

Dodgers workout

The healthy portion of the Dodgers’ roster worked out at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday. (David Crane/Staff photographer)


In a span of days, the Dodgers-Braves series has become more noteworthy for who won’t be on the field than who will.

The Atlanta Braves announced their roster Wednesday morning, and second baseman Dan Uggla will not be on it. Nor should he be; Uggla is hitting .179 — the lowest full-season average for a qualifying hitter since Rob Deer in 1991 (also .179). Elliot Johnson has gotten more time at second base in September and hit a more respectable .261. Johnson is also the better fielding second baseman, by a little.

The Braves also chose 36-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia over left-hander Paul Maholm. That makes Garcia look like the favorite to start a possible Game 4 in Los Angeles on Monday.

Maholm is making $4.25 million this year. Uggla is making $13 million. And those expenses hardly compare to the Dodgers’ bench.

Andre Ethier ($13.5 million) might not be available for the Division Series because of his bum left ankle. Matt Kemp ($20 million) has already been ruled out. Forget about injured pitchers Chad Billingsley ($11 million) and Josh Beckett ($15.75 million).

There are still some tough decisions for the Dodgers to make, though not as expensive. Their roster must be submitted to the league by 7 a.m. Pacific Time tomorrow. Rosters are submitted to MLB’s baseball operations department on a form that the league prepares, and are usually scanned back to the Commissioner’s Office.

It’s an important piece of paper, but the missing names might be more interesting.

Some bullet points for an Oct. 2 (Happy Birthday mom!):
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Daily Distractions: Sizing up the umpires for the Dodgers-Atlanta Braves National League Division Series.

Marvin Hudson

Umpire Marvin Hudson (center) and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (right) have met before. (Getty Images)

Major League Baseball assigned John Hirschbeck’s crew to the Dodgers-Atlanta Braves National League Division series and is comprised of Laz Diaz, Marvin Hudson, Bill Miller, regular season crew chief Tim Welke and Hunter Wendelstedt.

It’s inherent to the circumstances that these supposed to be some of the best umpires in MLB. If not, they would be relaxing at home while another crew umpired the series. That said, it’s easier to cherry-pick their flaws than their successes. This also makes for better blog reading.

Welke is responsible for one of the worst safe/out calls against the Dodgers you’ll ever see.

Wendelstedt’s strike zone has drawn heavy criticism in the past. Decide for yourself: The blog Strike Zone Maps allows you to compare umpires’ strike zones on certain days (To me, Wendlestedt’s appears to be more consistent, and less forgiving for pitches outside the strike zone, than many.) Baseball Heat Maps confirms that Wendlestedt’s strike zone doesn’t reward too many balls out of the rulebook-defined strike zone.

Miller ejected Dodgers manager Don Mattingly on Aug. 1, one of his three ejections in 2013 and one that happened so quickly I didn’t realize it at the time. (For comparison’s sake, Chad Fairchild led MLB umpires with eight.) Welke, Wendlestedt and Hudson have each ejected four players or managers this season.

These are all good talking points for a slow news day, but we might not hear their names again once the games begin — if they’re doing their jobs.

Some bullet points for a Botswanan Independence Day:
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Daily Distractions: Uptonia!

Kate Upton

A YouTube screenshot of Kate Upton’s new Super Bowl ad. Go Niners.

Today’s distractions are a bit late; I was distracted by news that Kate Upton got traded …

Atlanta became a baseball Uptonia on Thursday, when the Braves acquired Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks. The seven-player trade sends Randall Delgado, Martin Prado and minor-leaguers Zeke Spruill, Nick Ahmed and Brandon Drury to Arizona. Third baseman Chris Johnson, who hit a grand slam against the Dodgers in his first game as a Diamondback last year, also goes to Atlanta in the trade.

The Braves’ outfield of B.J. Upton, Justin Upton and Jason Heyward has already been hailed as baseball’s best, though I think Mike Trout, Peter Bourjos and Josh Hamilton will make a strong case this season.

I personally feel good for the younger Upton, who’s been the subject of trade rumors on and off for three years — particularly this off-season — without getting a lick of assurance from the Diamondbacks about his future. At least that’s how it seemed publicly.

For Arizona, the 2013 lineup begets more questions than hope. That’s a good thing for the Dodgers, and I’ll explore it in more depth in my next blog post.

The rest of today’s news, still waiting on that Dodgers cable deal …

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Postgame: Braves 8, Dodgers 2

The Braves beat the Dodgers 8-2 today to win the series 3-1. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

Not a good day for the Dodgers. Eric Stults kept the game close in a spot start, but the bullpen couldn’t keep the team in the game. Manny Ramirez went 3-for-4 but the team went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

Javier Vasquez was really dealing for the Braves. His stuff looked great throughout, and he shut the Dodgers down to the tune of eight innings of one-run baseball. The Blue had only two extra-base hits in the game, doubles by Manny Ramirez and Orlando Hudson.

Matt Diaz homered in the second, but the Braves didn’t really put together any significant on offense until the ninth, where five hits and a walk, capped by a two-run single by Martin Prado, made the score 8-1.

ETC…ETC:

The Dodgers put together a brief rally in the ninth but Mark Loretta, starting for James Loney at first, flew out to end the game.

Stults, recalled earlier today to replace Tony Abreu on the active roster, certainly did what we asked. He pitched five innings, giving up three runs while on just two days’ rest after a Triple-A start Thursday.

There’s definitely cause to be worried about Ramon Troncoso. Since pitching back-to-back-to-back games July 18-20, his ERA has been a not-so-hot 13.50 in six innings of work. He’s given up 15 hits and struck out just four in that time and was shelled in today’s ninth inning.

Don’t look now, but both the Giants and Rockies are tied for the NL Wild Card lead 61-50 and are just 5.5 games back of the Dodgers in the West. The Rockies are a simply incredible 43-22 since Jim Tracy took over as manager on May 29.

ON DECK:

Hiroki Kuroda (4-5, 4.44) and Jonathan Sanchez (5-9, 4.49 and of no-hitter fame) match up in the first game of a crucial three-game set in San Francisco. The Dodgers won’t have to face Matt Cain but Tim Lincecum is set to take the ball Wednesday.

Postgame: Braves 2, Dodgers 1

The Braves beat the Dodgers 2-1 in 10 innings tonight. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

For the second consecutive night, the Braves won it in extras — this time in the tenth on a Kelly Johnson two-run homer off Guillermo Mota. Andre Ethier hit an RBI double but Matt Kemp grounded out with runners on second and first to end the game.

The game had been scoreless until the tenth, as both Clayton Kershaw (7 innings, 2 hits, 10 strikeouts) and Kenshin Kawakami (7 innings, 4 hits) shut down the opposition. The Braves’ Kris Medlen got the win by pitching two scoreless innings in relief.

The Braves had three hits in the game. No typo. A double by Ryan Church to lead off the game, a Garrett Anderson single in the fourth inning, and Johnson’s homer.

ETC…ETC:

Ronald Belisario made a surprising early return from the disabled list and was effective in pitching part of the eighth. He walked one but got two outs before being removed for George Sherrill.

Manny Ramirez went 0-for-4 to lower his average to .302. Tony Abreu, making his first start in the big leagues since 2007, went 1-for-3 with a walk.

Tomorrow’s starter still hasn’t been announced — but it’s likely to be Jeff Weaver. Weaver last pitched on Monday against the Brewers. He’s made five starts this season.

The Dodgers have won just six of their last 16 games. They’re currently 1 1/2 games back of the Yankees for the best record in baseball.

ON DECK:

The Dodgers will attempt to salvage a 2-2 series split with the Braves tomorrow, with Javier Vasquez (9-7, 2.99) facing a TBD starter for the Blue at 1:10 p.m.

Postgame: Braves 9, Dodgers 5 (12 innings)

The Braves beat the Dodgers 9-5 in 12 innings late last night. For a full recap and boxscore click here.

THE BARE ESSENTIALS:

The Braves won it in the 12th on an RBI base hit that unlocked the 5-5 tie, then broke it open with a three-run homer by Ryan Church. Jonathan Broxton, who entered the game with a 5-4 lead in the ninth, blew the save.

The loss went to Ramon Troncoso, who simply wasn’t effective beginning the 12th inning. Scott Elbert, the Sunday starter (as announced today), then entered in relief and gave up the bomb to Church.

Chad Billingsley pitched six strong innings but again exited early due to injury, this time with a left hamstring strain termed mild. Sunday he left early with a right hamstring strain. He allowed four hits and three walks in his six innings of work.

Only two Dodgers had multiple-hit performances, as Casey Blake went 3-for-6 with a home run and Russell Martin went 3-for-5 to raise his average to .271.

ETC…ETC:

Only James McDonald shined out of the bullpen tonight, as he pitched two perfect innings. Hong-Chih Kuo had his first bad outing since his return from the disabled list, getting only one of three batters out. George Sherrill wasn’t charged with any runs but gave up three hits in 1 2/3 innings.

It could be speculated that Broxton blew the save in part due to a fan that ran onto the field in the top of the ninth. From that point, he walked Nate McLouth and wasn’t in control.

Manny Ramirez went 0-for-3 with a walk before leaving in a double switch to start the ninth. Andre Ethier went 0-for-2 with, count ‘em, four walks.

ON DECK:

The Dodgers send LHP Clayton Kershaw (8-6, 2.89) against Braves RHP Kenshin Kawakami (5-9, 4.38).