Dodgers @ Pirates June 26, 2016: Birth of the Kuhl

Clayton Kershaw pitching in Pittsburgh always reminds me of this play:

Dodgers
Pirates
5:05 p.m. PT
Pittsburgh
2B
 Utley
SS
 Mercer
SS
 Seager
1B
 Freese
3B
Turner
CF
 McCutchen
LF
Kendrick
3B
 Kang
CF
 Pederson
LF
 Marte
RF
 Puig
2B
 Harrison
C
Grandal C  Stewart
1B
Van Slyke
RF
 Rodriguez
P
Kershaw (L)
P
Kuhl (R)

This was in 2013, Kershaw’s first season with a sub-2 ERA and the year of his second Cy Young award. Kershaw did not have his best control that day (he walked three). In the sixth inning, he allowed an Andrew McCutchen single and Gaby Sanchez reached on catcher’s interference. Former Dodger Russell Martin stepped to the plate, but Skip Schumaker saved Kershaw’s bacon. The Dodgers went on to win the game in extra innings despite a Kenley Jansen blown save. One of the runs would have been un-earned, but Schumaker’s catch still saved Kershaw 0.08 runs on his final ERA.

That game has more in common with today’s contest than being in Pittsburgh. It was also Brandon Cumpton‘s major-league debut. Cumpton hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2014, and he’s not the starting pitcher today. Instead, it’s Chad Kuhl, who is also making his major-league debut. Kuhl is a 6’3″ right-handed pitcher, drafted in the ninth round of the 2013 draft. For those who hadn’t heard of him before today, you’re not alone, but here’s what Chris Crawford of Baseball Prospectus had to say about his call-up:

Kuhl would have an above-average fastball just based on velocity (he sits in the low 90s), but what makes it a plus pitch is that there’s a tremendous amount of sink to it. He’s got the stuff to be a groundball machine, and the power of his fastball/sinker allows it to miss bats.

If you’re looking for a guy who is going to miss a ton of bats and wow you with electric stuff, Kuhl isn’t and never will be that pitcher. What he can do is give hitters uncomfortable at bats, and keep the ball below the knees while keeping the self-inflicted damage to a minimum.

Kuhl’s sinker will sit in the lower 90s, and he will also mix in a slider and change, which did not get good grades in Crawford’s report. Still, he’s not a random scrub like Nick Tepesch was. Look for a lot of grounders by the Dodger bats tonight.

Speaking of the Dodger bats, Adrian Gonzalez is notably missing from today’s lineup. The slumping Gonzalez will also get tomorrow off as something of a mental break. It’s hard to argue with the logic for the temporary benching. The rest of the Dodger lineup is basically as standard against right-handed pitching, though Howie Kendrick and his 0.086 ISO are batting cleanup while Trayce Thompson sits on the bench. Your guess is as good as mine.

Wednesday’s starter is still up in the air, though one candidate for the game has been removed: Jharel Cotton pitched in AAA today. That leaves Brock Stewart (acknowledged by Roberts today), Carlos Frias (if somebody goes to the DL), Mike Bolsinger (unlikely), or a bullpen game. With Cotton off the table, hopefully Stewart is given the chance to step up.

ThrowsRelieverSat 10/15Sun 10/16Mon 10/17Tue 10/18Wed 10/19Thur 10/20Fri 10/21
LAvilan--OFF-2421OFF
RBaez34-OFF-2727OFF
RBlanton28-OFF13-19OFF
LDayton3-OFF16-12OFF
RFields--OFF-910OFF
RJansen-18OFF21--OFF
RStripling10-OFF-2018OFF
LWood--OFF-32-OFF

About Daniel Brim

Daniel Brim
Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn't live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.