Dodgers @ Pirates June 5, 2018: LA aims for .500 with Stripling on the mound

The Dodgers (29-30) haven’t lost a game in June. They’ll wrap up their road trip with a three-game series against the Pirates (30-29) in Pittsburgh. After completing a three-game sweep of the Rockies in Colorado, LA goes for their fourth straight win. If they do win, they’ll finally reach .500 on the season, a threshold they haven’t been able to sniff since April 24 when they were 11-11. Despite being pronounced dead in May, the Dodgers aren’t completely flatlined yet. The NL West remains weak, and the Dodgers are only 2 games back of the D-backs. They’ve almost dug themselves out of the hole they were in. The D-backs spiraled in May going 8-19, while the Dodgers broke even and went 14-14 last month.

Dodgers
Pirates
4:05 p.m.
Pittsburgh
SS
Taylor
2B
Harrison
3B
Muncy
CF
Meadows
C
Grandal
C
Cervelli
LF
Kemp
1B
Bell
CF
Pederson
LF
Dickerson
RF
Puig
3B
Moran
1B
Bellinger RF Polanco
2B
Forsythe
SS
Mercer
P
Stripling (R)
P
Musgrove (R)

Ross Stripling (3-1, 1.68 ERA, 2.16 FIP) was one of the most important contributors during the Dodgers’ turnaround in May. Injuries that befell the starting rotation including Clayton Kershaw opened the door for Chicken Strip to step up into the starter role, an opportunity he seized and succeeded at. In May, Stripling dominated and went 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 30 innings (six games and five starts). He struck out 41 batters and only walked four, good for a 10.25 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The Dodgers now look to Stripling to continue his excellent pitching against the Bucs. Overall, Stripling is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA against the Pirates in four games (two starts). He’s only pitched one inning at PNC Park, picking up the save in the 12th inning after Yasiel Puig crushed a go-ahead home run in the top of the frame. I’m very much here for more Puig dongs in Pittsburgh by the way.

Pirates fans have been just as frustrated as Dodger fans this year. The Bucs sit in fourth place, 6.5 games back of the first-place Brewers in the NL Central. At one point they were nine games above .500 on May 17, but since have lost 12 of their last 16 games. The Pirates were nearly no-hit in Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Cardinals.

Joe Musgrove (2-0, 0.64 ERA, 2.25 FIP) makes his third start for the Pirates this year. The 25-year old right-hander was acquired in January from the Houston Astros along with Michael Feliz, Colin Moran, and Jason Martin in exchange for Gerrit Cole. After recovering from a shoulder strain, he’s pitched well in his first two starts this year with the Pirates. He’s only allowed one run in 14 innings while striking out a dozen and walking four.

Musgrove has never faced the Dodgers in the regular season, but did pitch against them in the World Series when he was with the Houston Astros. He allowed three runs on three hits in four innings in Games 2, 4, 5 and 6. He earned the win in Game 5 in relief. Joc Pederson hit two home runs off him in the series, so look out for that rematch.

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If you had told me that Matt Kemp and Max Muncy were going to lead the Dodgers’ offense back in Spring, I would have replied by saying “Muncy who?” and “Kemp probably won’t even be on the Opening Day roster.” Well, here we are.

Kemp was named the NL Player of the Week. The Bison hit .429/.458/.952 with three home runs.

The Dodgers relief squad also garnered Bullpen of the Week honors.

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Max Muncy starts at third base and bats second for the Dodgers tonight. Justin Turner is out of the lineup and experiencing soreness in his wrist. That doesn’t sound great.

Injuries have opened the door to Muncy and many other players this year who wouldn’t have got such an early shot with the big club. With four of the Dodgers starting pitchers on the disabled list, LA will call up 21-year old Caleb Ferguson from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Wednesday. The left-hander, ranked #15 on Dustin’s 2018 top prospect list, started the season in Double-A Tulsa where he went 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 39 innings (eight starts). He made two starts with the OKC Dodgers, posting a 2.25 ERA with 12 strikeouts in eight innings. The Dodgers will need to make a move to clear a spot for Ferguson on the 40-man roster.

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Speaking of prospects, if you missed any of our draft coverage you can find it all here, including write-ups of first rounder J.T. Ginn and second round selection Michael Grove. Today, in the third round, the Dodgers selected LHP John Rooney (No. 104) out of Hofstra. Their fourth pick was right-handed pitcher Braydon Fisher (134) out of Clear Falls, HS. In rounds 5-10, the Dodgers selected infielder Devin Mann (164) out of Louisville, LHP Bryan Warzek (194) from the University of New Orleans, outfielder James Outman (224) from Sacramento State, infielder Luke Heyer (254) out of the University of Kentucky, outfielder Josh McLain (284) from North Carolina State, and infielder Deacon Liput (314) out of Florida. Stay tuned for more in-depth coverage on today’s draftees here tomorrow.

It’s been a good week for the Dodgers. Let’s extend that into a good month.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation and Dodger Blue 1958. She currently contributes to The Hardball Times. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.