Dodgers @ Rangers August 28, 2018: Everything’s bigger in Texas edition

(Via)

The Dodgers won their 70th game of the year and swept the Padres on Sunday, inching them closer to the top of the NL West with 31 games remaining in the regular season. The Diamondbacks and Rockies both lost yesterday, so the Dodgers gained some ground while idle and now sit two games behind first-place Arizona and one game back of Colorado. LA starts a short two-game interleague series against the last-place Rangers on Tuesday as they go for their fourth straight win.

Dodgers
Rangers
5:05 p.m.
Texas
LF
Pederson
LF
Choo
3B
Turner
2B
Odor
SS Machado
SS
Andrus
DH
Muncy
RF
Mazara
2B
Dozier
DH
Beltre
C
Grandal
3B
Profar
1B
Bellinger CF Gallo
RF
Hernandez
C
Chirinos
CF
Taylor
1B
Guzman
P
Buehler (R)
P
Jurado (R)

Walker Buehler (6-4, 2.96 ERA, 3.23 FIP) makes his first career start against the Rangers and looks to continue his breakout year. He’s among the top five rookies in strikeouts (102) and 9th in ERA. Buehler wasn’t involved in the decision of his last start against the Cardinals. Nevertheless, he pitched fiercely in the battle against another great rookie pitcher, Jack Flaherty. Buehler gave up three hits and two walks while striking out nine over seven scoreless innings on 104 pitches, and he only allowed two runners to reach scoring position. Scott Alexander blew the lead in the eighth, and the Dodgers were swept by the Cards.

The disastrous eighth shouldn’t erase Buehler’s strong performance. The rookie right-hander has been dominant in August, going 2-0 with a 1.07 ERA, 0.908 WHIP, and 11 K/9 in 25 1/3 innings. He’s only allowed four runs in his last five starts. He has a 50% groundball rate, slightly higher than Clayton Kershaw (48.7%) and 10th highest in the NL.

The Dodgers swept the two-game set against the Rangers back in June, including an 11-inning wild walk-off win in the series finale. They now look for similar results in the Lone Star State.

If you remember, Matt Kemp and Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos got into it and ignited a mini brawl. Kemp ran into Chirinos who was blocking the plate, a pushing match ensued, and the benches cleared.

Chirinos also took a swing at Cody Bellinger before he was ejected along with Kemp. I’m hopeful that there is no longer any animosity. Kemp isn’t in the starting lineup with Jurado on the mound. The Rangers are 23.5 games back of the Astros and lost two of three to the Giants over the weekend. So they have nothing to lose.

Ariel Jurado (2-3, 6.40 ERA, 5.75 FIP), the 22-year old right-hander from Panama, makes his first career start against the Dodgers and 7th overall career start since he made his MLB debut on May 19 for Texas. Left-handed batters are hitting .370/.443/.630/1.072 against him, so Dave Roberts put together a heavy lefty lineup accordingly with Joc Pederson returning to the lineup and leading off and Max Muncy as DH. Jurado has a good sinker, but he still needs to improve his secondary pitches to go with it. His groundball percentage is 52.1% thanks to the sinker he throws 68% of the time, but he’s not missing bats and has only 12 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings of work (3.3 K/9).

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Yasiel Puig’s not in the starting lineup, and the results of his suspension hearing hasn’t been announced yet.

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Since my post went up about the Dodgers’ not being dead on Saturday, they’ve gone from 4.5 games back of the D-backs and 3.5 games behind the Rockies to 2 games away from first in the West. They still have time and a more advantageous schedule down the stretch to defend their NL West division title.

Hopefully everything is bigger in Texas, especially the dongs.

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, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. 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.