The historic offensive 18-run, seven-homer onslaught the Dodgers waged upon the Reds on Monday in Cincinnati was a lot of fun, but now the focus turns to what is shaping up to be one of the most important series for both Los Angeles and San Francisco this season. The Dodgers, with a one-game lead in the NL West, begin their tenth homestand on Tuesday night with a three-game series against their division rivals.
The Dodgers go for their 70th win on the year, and they enter the critical series having won two straight against the Reds. The Giants have lost two straight, but they come into the series having won six of the 10 games between the two NL West rivals so far this season. Despite being without their top player Clayton Kershaw since late June, the Dodgers have gone 18-15 since the All-Star break and have been dominant at home (38-24) while taking over first place during that span.
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The Giants have been favored to win the NL West for most of the season, but since the All-Star break they have been stumbling and are 11-23 with a 5-12 record on the road. These final nine games between the two teams will likely determine who wins the division crown.
Madison Bumgarner (12-7, 2.25 ERA, 3.20 FIP) doesn’t have Yasiel Puig to yell at anymore. The Dodgers haven’t faced the southpaw since April 9 and 15 when they defeated the Giants in both of his starts. The Giants ace has an overall record of 13-8 with a 2.57 ERA in 24 career games against the Dodgers. He is 8-5 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 games pitched at Dodger Stadium. Last time out against the Mets, MadBum was roughed up a bit and allowed four runs on six hits with three walks in five innings, but still came away with the victory at AT&T Park.
The Dodgers have struggled mightily against left-handed pitching this year (although they are 14-15 in those games), as they are dead last in the Majors with a .224 combined batting average against LHP. Enrique Hernandez, possibly Bumgarner’s new adversary, is hitting .625 with 10 hits, including three home runs and four doubles, in 16 at-bats against him. Kiké is starting in center field and batting leadoff.
Dodgers-Giants games are usually close contests, and with Bumgarner on the mound another 18-run offensive showing seems highly unlikely. In one-run games, the Dodgers are 16-18 while the Giants are 24-18.
The Dodgers’ offense and bullpen has really picked up their so-called rotation this year. With Scott Kazmir scheduled to undergo a MRI for a sore back and neck on Tuesday, Kenta Maeda (12-7, 3.29 ERA, 3.67 FIP) could be the last starting pitcher standing who has not landed on the disabled list this season. Kazmir’s back and neck stiffness was revealed to be something he has been dealing with for “years.” Bud Norris is also dealing with a sore back (but remains in the rotation as of right now), but Thursday’s starter is once again TBD. Brett Anderson is also unlikely to start due to a blister.
Ironically Maeda is the one who had an incentive-based contract due to the concerns with his health, but he has been the most reliable and healthy starter the Dodgers have had this season. Back on April 17 he pitched well against San Francisco, going seven innings while allowing one run on four hits with seven strikeouts in the 3-1 win. He’ll have to be wary of the annoying Angel Pagan, who has a 18-game hitting streak, currently the longest in the Majors. He has struck out both times he has faced Maeda.
Maeda is riding a three-game winning streak going into his 25th start for the Dodgers on Tuesday night. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his last five starts.
Howie Kendrick bats second in Roberts’ lineup for the series opener, and soon-to-be new daddy Rob Segedin is in right field and batting seventh. Charlie Culberson, who we last saw on July 20 with the Dodgers, has been called up and playing second base.
Clayton Kershaw mentioned he would need a rehab start eventually, before he returns. Dave Roberts said 2 starts were “negotiated down to 1”
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) August 23, 2016
Who’s the manager here?
Dave Roberts said Andre Ethier could do a rehab assignment (TBA) and rejoin #Dodgers in mid-September.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) August 23, 2016
Buckle up, there’s a division to be won.[table id=5/]