Dodgers @ Giants September 29, 2018: Kershaw vs Rodriguez with a chance to clinch a playoff spot

Photo by: Stacie Wheeler

The Dodgers handled their business last night, defeating the Giants 3-1 and ensuring that their season will not end tomorrow. The Dodgers are still alive in the division, and with two wins and two Rockie losses will win the NL West outright. The Dodgers are still one game back, so one Dodger win and two Rockie losses or two Dodger wins and one Rockie loss will force a game 163 in LA on Monday. One Dodger win or one Cardinal loss will ensure that at worst, the Dodgers will be the second wild card team. This is a lot of math to do for a Saturday morning, but the Dodgers playoff chances are looking pretty solid. Root for the Nationals and the Cubs. 2018 really is a trash year.

Dodgers
Giants
1:05 PM
San Francisco
LF
Pederson
RF
Pence
3B
Turner
2B
Panik
1B
Muncy
3B
Longoria
SS
Machado
C
Hundley
CF
Bellinger
SS
Crawford
RF
Puig
1B
Garcia
C
Grandal CF Hernandez
2B
Hern√°ndez
LF
Blanco
P
Kershaw (L)
P
Rodriguez (R)

Clayton Kershaw gets the ball for the 26th time this season. There is a version of this simulation where this is the final Clayton Kershaw start in a Dodger uniform, and now I’m crying on a Saturday morning. Kershaw has had a down season by his standards with a 2.53 ERA/3.24 FIP, his highest ERA since 2011 and his highest FIP since his rookie season. With 5 2/3 innings pitched today, Kershaw will become a qualified starter. As it stands, his ERA would tie him for fifth among qualified starters with Max Scherzer and his FIP would be the 11th-best in baseball, in between Corey Kluber and Zack Wheeler. So it’s not like he’s bad, but he’s no longer head-and-shoulders better than every other human at pitching. The Dodgers have won Kershaw’s last seven starts and he’s given up three or fewer earned runs in all but one start this season. He’s also only had one scoreless outing this season and has struck out double-digit batters only once. Kershaw has seen the Giants three times this season and allowed only one run in each game, but the Dodgers have won only one of these starts.

Dereck Rodriguez starts for the Giants today in the final start of his fantastic rookie season. In a normal year, Rodriguez would have a ton of momentum in the Rookie of the Year race. As is, he has little chance of even being a top-three finisher. That shouldn’t take away from his season to date. In 18 starts (and two relief appearances), Rodriguez has posted a 2.50 ERA/3.46 FIP. He’s had some fortunate luck, with a .255 BABIP overall and a .224 BABIP at AT&T Park. His 18.7 percent strikeout rate isn’t anything to write home about, and SIERA (4.47) and DRA (4.82) don’t like him nearly as much as ERA and FIP do. While he doesn’t miss a lot of bats, he does miss a lot of barrels. Statcast has Rodriguez in the top two percent of the league with a 3.5 percent barrel rate.

The Giants have lost each of Rodriguez’s last six starts, despite the fact that he’s allowed one run in three of the six. He’s coming off one of his worst starts of the season, as he allowed four runs in six innings in St. Louis and struck out only two batters. Somehow, this is his first look at the Dodgers this season. Baseball Savant has three different fastball classifications for Rodriguez: A regular four-seamer, a cutter and a sinker. He sits in the low-90s and mixes in a curveball that averages 75.4 mph.

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Depending on what happens tonight, Walker Buehler may not make his scheduled start tomorrow.

If the Dodgers are locked in to the wild card or play-in game, it makes sense to save Buehler for a do-or-die playoff game.

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The relevant games for today. The Cubs and Cardinals are in the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Cards have a 2-1 lead. If that holds up, the Dodgers will have to win to clinch the wild card spot today. The NL West outlook will remain unknown, as the Rockies and Nationals don’t start until 5:10. Jon Gray starts for Colorado with Stephen Strasburg going for the Nats.

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.