Astros @ Dodgers August 4, 2018: McCullers vs Maeda

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

After my rant about Justin Verlander in last night’s game thread, he proceeded to dominate the Dodgers as Houston took the first game of the series, 2-1. Probably shouldn’t have used up all their runs on Thursday night.

Astros
Dodgers
6:10 PM
Los Angeles
CF
Springer
CF
Taylor
RF
Reddick
SS
Machado
SS
Bregman
3B
Turner
3B
Gurriel
LF
Kemp
2B
Gonzalez
2B
Dozier
1B
White
RF
Puig
C
Maldonado 1B Hernández
LF
Kemp
C
Barnes
P
McCullers (R)
P
Maeda (R)

Kenta Maeda is coming off his shortest start in a month, after completing only 4 2/3 innings against the Brewers on Monday. Milwaukee began the game with a double, a walk and two singles to score a run and load the bases against Maeda. He battled back to escape the jam with only the one run allowed, but got back in trouble with two outs in the third inning. A walk and a single preceded a three-run bomb by Eric Thames, and Maeda made it another inning before finding himself in trouble again and being pulled with runners on the corners in the fifth. It was Maeda’s second consecutive start allowing four earned runs after allowing four combined in his previous four starts, so he’s on a bit of a cold streak. Facing the Astros probably won’t help that. He has never started against them in his career, but he made four appearances against them out of the bullpen in the World Series. In 5 2/3 innings across those four games, Maeda allowed five hits and two walks and struck out three batters. He allowed a solo home run to Jose Altuve in the shitshow of a game that was game 5, but kept the Astros off the board otherwise.

Lance McCullers has by far been the worst of the five Astro starters this season, but that’s more due to the fact that the rest of them have been really good. His ERA isn’t great (4.06), but his 3.62 FIP is much more forgiving. He’s struck out 133 batters in 122 innings while walking 48 and has failed to complete six innings in only eight of his 21 starts. Not bad for a number five starter. McCullers threw back-to-back seven inning gems on June 28 and July 6, but since then he’s been roughed up. In his last three starts, McCullers has thrown 13 2/3 innings and allowed 16 hits, 14 runs and has a 15:10 K:BB ratio. His last time out against Texas the best of these outing, as he allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings and struck out 11. The Dodgers saw McCullers twice in the World Series last year. In game 3, McCullers turned in 5 1/3 innings of three run ball and got the win despite issuing four walks. In game 7, McCullers allowed three hits in 2 1/3 innings before giving way to the bullpen. McCullers leans on his high-spin curveball (46.4 percent of the time, 2788 spin rate) and sinker. His 55.4 percent ground ball rate is the second-highest among qualified starters.

Despite McCullers being a righty, the Dodger lineup today features no left-handed hitters. Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal all sit. Enrique Hernandez starts at first, Chris Taylor gets a start in center and Austin Barnes starts behind the plate. McCullers has fared much better against lefties than righties this year, allowing a .579 OPS against lefties and a .754 OPS against righties. Each team has a Kemp starting in left, as Matt Kemp starts for the Dodgers and Tony Kemp for the Astros.

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Alex Wood had a bit of a rough start and still managed to allow only two runs in six innings of work. However, he left the game with a trainer and was placed on the DL today. Ross Stripling will likely take his spot in the rotation next week, and Zac Rosscup is back in the bullpen for the time being. Wood was the only member of the Opening Day rotation that hadn’t been on the DL, which is a fun (not fun) note against a team (Houston) that has used the same five starters all season.

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Today is also the first of five games that will be broadcast on KTLA.

About Alex Campos

Alex Campos
I'm a writer that has blogged at a whole bunch of places about a whole bunch of sports. I was most recently writing for Chavez Ravine Fiends, but was also the former editor at Dodgers Way. I graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Marketing. At Long Beach, I covered the Dirtbags in the 2014 season as an assistant sports editor at the Daily 49er.