The Cincinnati Reds (15-29) are on the West Coast to battle the LA Dodgers (22-23) for a 3-game series. The game threads will be posting at their regularly scheduled time this week, though game action won’t start until 10pm ET.
Despite having the best run differential in the NL West (+15), the Dodgers find themselves currently sitting in 3rd place, 4.5 games behind the first place Giants.
The Dodgers played an 11-inning game on Saturday against the Padres in which they used 6 relievers and lost the game on a walk-off walk. Then on Sunday afternoon, the Dodgers used all eight of their relievers and had to use Clayton Kershaw as a pinch hitter in the 15th inning. They finally ended the six hours after it started by scoring four times in the 17th inning. Which would normally add up to some sort of advantage tonight for the Reds in Los Angeles, right? Well, of course, it’s Clayton Kershaw who gets to play on back-to-back nights, taking tonight’s start, which has routinely become a night off for the Dodgers “shaky bullpen“. Kershaw hasn’t pitched less than seven innings in any of his nine starts this season. Two of his most recent four starts have been complete games.
A classic battle between two left-handed pitchers tonight. They were both drafted in the 1st round of the June draft. Both men are in their 20’s. Each of them are making their respective 10th start of the season. They both have a 1 and a 6 in their BB% (percentage of walks per batters faced). And, I actually ran out of similarities before I even started.
Kershaw has the ball for the Dodgers tonight, and if you stay up late to watch the game, you’ll get a chance to watch one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. He’s won three of the past five NL Cy Young Awards and is having an even better season this year than he has in previous seasons: nine starts, 70 innings, 88 strikeouts and FOUR walks. After walking three batters over his first four starts, he’s issued just ONE free pass over his last five starts spanning 40 innings. Per ESPN:
There are 106 pitchers this season who have walked four batters in a game. Including last year’s Cy Young winners — Jake Arrieta and Dallas Keuchel — who have done it three times each.
Brandon Finnegan is not Clayton Kershaw. He has yet to complete seven innings in a game this season. We’ll look at the positives and focus on his last start in which he didn’t walk any batters and struck out six over 5.2 innings. That makes two of his last three starts where he hasn’t walked a batter.
LINEUP AND BATTING ORDER
|SP: Brandon Finnegan||SP: Clayton Kershaw|
|1. Zack Cozart (SS)
2. Billy Hamilton (CF)
3. Joey Votto (1B)
4. Brandon Phillips (2B)
5. Jay Bruce (RF)
6. Adam Duvall (LF)
7. Jordan Pacheco (3B)
8. Tucker Barnhart (C)
9. Brandon Finnegan (P)
|1. Kiké Hernandez (LF)
2. Justin Turner (3B)
3. Adrian Gonzalez (1B)
4. Howie Kendrick (2B)
5. Trayce Thompson (CF)
6. Corey Seager (SS)
7. Yasiel Puig (RF)
8. A.J. Ellis (C)
9. Clayton Kershaw (P)
Eugenio Suarez gets the day off he needs. Otherwise, standard Reds lineup to take on Kershaw.
WINNING OFF THE FIELD
I don’t recall this happening very often. Major League Baseball has rescinded the three game suspension and fine of Reds reliever Ross Ohlendorf. You typically see reduced penalties when these things are appealed. So, an outright rescission gives the Reds a rare win.
In my humble opinion, it is time for Alfredo Simon to move back to the bullpen. It was the Reds who initially made him a starter two seasons ago, and they need to do right by him and the team and move him back to a bullpen role. I’m not saying that he will be any better there, but I think they need to see if they can salvage anything from their $2 million offseason expenditure to see if he can pitch anywhere close to the way he did as a reliever in 2012-2013.
The last time that Kershaw faced Cincinnati hitters, he pitched seven innings, walked one batter and struck out nine. However, Brandon Phillips hit a two-run homerun in the top of the first inning, which gave Cincinnati a lead that they never relinquished.
Finnegan and the Reds bullpen will need to pitch tonight as well as Homer Bailey did that May night almost exactly two years ago for history to repeat itself.