|4:10 PM PT5:10 PM MT6:10 PM CT7:10 PM ET19:10 ET23:10 GMT7:10 4:10 PM MST6:10 PM EST6:40 PM VEN3:10 UAE (+1)6:10 PM CT, March 31, 2018
SunTrust Park, Atlanta, Georgia Attendance: 37,777
McCarthy to debut for Braves vs. Phillies
ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Braves traded Matt Kemp to the Los Angeles Dodgers to get rid of the two remaining years on the outfielder's big contract, but they hope they got a solid veteran starting pitcher back in the deal for 2018.
That will all depend on Brandon McCarthy staying healthy after three seasons with the Dodgers, when the 34-year-old right-hander couldn't remain on the mound.
McCarthy will make his first start for Atlanta on Saturday night as the Braves conclude an opening three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies at SunTrust Park.
Right-hander Vince Velasquez, whose 2017 season came to an end in August because of surgery on his index finger, will pitch for the Phillies.
The teams split the first two games while taxing their bullpens. The Braves posted an opening 8-5 walk-off victory on Nick Markakis's ninth-inning homer and the Phillies prevailed 5-4 in 11 innings.
Each team used five relievers in Thursday's opener, then Philadelphia went to the bullpen eight times and Atlanta six times Friday.
"I'm well aware that we can't use everybody every night, if that's what you're asking," first-year Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said after his first win. "But I can also tell you we'll be creative and we'll be flexible and we'll find ways to put together a bullpen that will be protective."
McCarthy, who signed a four-year contract with the Dodgers as a free agent, pitched in just 33 games over three seasons in Los Angeles because of elbow surgery and other issues.
The 6-foot-7 California native got off to a good start with the Dodgers last season, but experienced mechanical issues after hurting his shoulder in May and pitched out of the bullpen in the playoffs, giving up a decisive homer in the second game of the World Series against Houston.
McCarthy, 6-4 with a 3.98 ERA in 19 games last season, pitched well in the Florida part of spring training before giving up a pair of two-run homers and walking three against the New York Yankees during a three-inning exhibition outing at SunTrust Park on Monday.
"Other than taking a day off the calendar, that was really the only (positive)," McCarthy said afterward. "Everything else (stunk). Maybe getting a feel for the park or the mound, but really, this was just a day to move past."
McCarthy began his career in the American League and has faced the Phillies just three times, going 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA. He had a no-decision last season, allowing eight hits and four runs in five innings.
Velasquez pitched seven scoreless innings against the Braves in a no-decision a year ago and is 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA in four career games against Atlanta.
The 25-year-old former Astros prospect had his 2017 season end after 15 starts, finishing 2-7 with a 5.13 ERA.
Velasquez was healthy and effective all camp, though.
"This spring training was huge with just health and staying strong," Velasquez said. "Everything has been kind of clicking the right way."
Velasquez struck out 152 in 131 innings during his first season with the Phillies in 2016, but he's trying to become more of a pitcher and less of just a hard thrower.
"Sometimes you've got to be a little bit conservative," Velasquez said. "You've got to just try and get outs. That's all part of being a pitcher, and that's what I want to display myself as."
Updated March 31, 2018