Cubs @ Dodgers May 28, 2017: Clayton Kershaw tries for the sweep

Photo: Sarah Wexler

The Dodgers have looked quite good in this series. They’ve shut out the Cubs through 18 innings and are sending the game’s best pitcher to the mound this afternoon in hopes of a sweep.

Cubs
Dodgers
1:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
2B
Baez
3B
Forsythe
3B
Bryant
SS
Seager
1B
Rizzo
CF
Taylor
LF
Happ
LF
Gutierrez
RF
Heyward
2B
Hernandez
C
Contreras
C
Barnes
SS
Russell 1B Bellinger
CF
Almora
RF
Eibner
P
Lester (L)
P
Kershaw (L)

The Cubs are countering Clayton Kershaw with their own ace in Jon Lester. Lester shut the Dodgers down for six innings in back in April. He was good, but the Dodgers had their chances. They let the game slip away in the bottom of the ninth as Anthony Rizzo drove in the game-winning run.

For Kershaw, he’s coming off his best start of the season — by far. He went nine innings, allowed three hits and struck out 10 Cardinal hitters. He allowed the game-tying run to score in the ninth inning after a wild slider Yasmani Grandal couldn’t block allowed Randal Grichuk to score all the way from second base. The Dodgers eventually won on a Logan Forsythe walk-off double.

Kershaw had 22 swinging strikes against the Red Birds, and his slider looked as good as it has all season. Perhaps he’s over his early season difficulties with the pitch. He’s still pitching to a 2.01 ERA, 2.60 FIP and has a 27 percent strikeout rate and a 12.4 swinging strike rate.

In fact, since the second game of the season (a bad start in Coors Field), his swinging strike rate has been trending the right direction.

I think he’s going to be just fine, folks.

The lineup looks pretty standard for a lefty on the mound. Franklin Gutierrez and Brett Eibner draw starts in the corner outfield spots, while Austin Barnes is behind the plate. Adrian Gonzalez is getting the day off, as is Chase Utley, who has been great in this series.

——

Here’s some news:

After a fantastic start yesterday, this is welcome news about Brandon McCarthy. He’s expected to make his next start (Thursday). He might be on a bit of a pitch count, which is fine. The way he’s throwing, if he can give the Dodgers even five innings and come out of it healthy, I’ll call it a win.

This has been a problem for a while. Yasiel Puig‘s wRC+ is down to a paltry 83, and he’s just hitting .220/.293/.387 on the season. At least he’s hitting for power, but fastballs have definitely been his problem pitch. FanGraphs has him at -10.8 runs above average on fastballs — second-worst in baseball behind Alcides Escobar (-15.3).

How Joc Pederson ever passed the first concussion test after being hit by Puig and slammed into the wall is beyond me. Concussions are fickle, so there’s no for sure time table for Pederson’s return. Until then, we’ll just have to make due with NL MVP Chris Taylor in center field.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin’ Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif., and has yet to be shot.