5:15 p.m. PT
The Dodgers took two out of three games from the Cardinals when the teams faced off at Dodger Stadium in May. Tonight, they begin a three-game series in St. Louis.
Both teams are in second place in their respective divisions, the Dodgers four games back of the Giants (who are 0-5 post-All-Star break), and the Cardinals six and a half games down to the Cubs. While it’s arguably still a little early in the season to be focusing on the wild card race, the Dodgers are currently leading there, with the Cardinals a game behind the Marlins for the second slot.
Brandon McCarthy will make his fourth start of the season for Los Angeles, and so far, his return has been triumphant. In his first three games back, McCarthy has allowed just three runs in 16 innings pitched, good for an ERA of 1.69 (1.96 FIP).
Perhaps what’s been most impressive about McCarthy are his strikeout numbers. McCarthy has struck out 22 batters, yielding a 37.9% strikeout rate and a 12.38 K/9 (versus just a 6.9% walk rate and a 2.25 BB/9).
McCarthy’s fastball velocity is down about one MPH from the past few seasons, but, as Brim put it:
McCarthy doesn't have his pre-surgery velocity but he sure has his pre-surgery movement
— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) July 17, 2016
One thing to keep an eye on tonight is McCarthy’s pitch count. McCarthy hasn’t been on a specified pitch limit since being reinstated from the DL, but he’s yet to throw more than 77 pitches in a game.
The Dodgers will face Michael Wacha, a guy they could’ve drafted in 2012 if they hadn’t been too busy drafting Corey Seager. If Dodger fans still feel traumatized from that 2013 NLCS, Wacha’s 2016 numbers may provide some consolation. In 19 games, Wacha has a 4.45 ERA (3.64 FIP) and a 1.42 WHIP across 109.1 innings. The Cardinals are 9-10 in his starts.
Speaking of Seager, he’s back in the lineup tonight after missing three games due to a stomach bug. Yasmani Grandal, who was unavailable yesterday dealing with the same issue, is also back in the lineup.
Yasiel Puig, who — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — injured his right hamstring running to first base yesterday, is not in today’s lineup. The latest on him:
Dave Roberts said Yasiel Puig's hamstring injury is just a short term problem. Could play Sunday. #Dodgers
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) July 22, 2016
Looks like Julio Urías is heading back to OKC after his spot start yesterday, and the Dodgers are back to having three catchers:
The #Dodgers have recalled C/IF Austin Barnes from Triple-A Oklahoma City and optioned LHP Julio Urías to OKC.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 22, 2016
It might be a little while until we find out the Dodgers’ next move vis-à-vis the starting rotation:
The Dodgers will roll with a four-man rotation until they need a fifth starter in August. They can use the off-days in their favor.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) July 22, 2016
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