Reds @ Dodgers April 15, 2019: Jackie Robinson Day, Clayton Kershaw Day, Yasiel Puig Reunion Day

Photo: Sarah Wexler

The Dodgers avoided a sweep and a seven-game losing streak with a win yesterday afternoon. Ross Stripling was huge for the Dodgers, who sneak back above .500 and open a series against a team of former Dodgers.

Reds
Dodgers
7:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
C
Casali
LF
Pederson
3B
Suarez
SS
Seager
RF
Puig
3B
Turner
LF
Kemp
RF
Bellinger
2B
Peraza
CF
Pollock
SS
Iglesias
1B
Muncy
CF
Schebler 2B Hernández
1B
Farmer
C
Barnes
P
Castillo (R)
P
Kershaw (L)

For the first time in 2019, Clayton Kershaw takes the ball for the Dodgers. After a few Spring setbacks, Kershaw returns following a pair of rehab starts in the minors. Kershaw put up nearly identical stats in his two starts, the first with OKC and the second with Tulsa. In each start, Kershaw struck out six batters and allowed a pair of runs. He only lasted 4 1/3 innings in the first start, but completed six in his start for Tulsa on 81 pitches.

Kershaw is coming off his worst season since 2010, but still a season that mortal pitchers would kill for. In 161 1/3 innings last season, Kershaw posted a 2.73 ERA, 3.19 FIP and 1.041 WHIP. Among pitchers with 160 or more innings last season, Kershaw had the seventh-best ERA, 12th-best FIP and eighth-best WHIP last season. Kershaw’s days of being the undeniably best pitcher in baseball may be over, but he isn’t completely washed.

Most concerning is his decline in velocity. His fastball averaged 90.8 MPH last season, 2 MPH lower that his previous career-low (in 2018). His slider mostly maintained its velocity (down .5 MPH from 2019, still in line with his career average). Dustin wrote about Kershaw’s slider hurting his fastball last August, and after failed attempts to increase velocity in the Spring, that’ll be worth keeping an eye on.

On the opposite side, Luis Castillo starts for the Reds for the fourth time in 2019. He’s been extremely good in his first three starts, as his worst start was a 5 2/3 inning, one run effort on Opening Day. Since then, Castillo has gone seven innings twice and allowed a total of one run. He’s struck out 25 batters in three games while walking only eight and has yet to allow a dong this season. He’s struck out at least eight batters in each start this season and hasn’t allowed more than two hits in a game so far. He’s legit. Castillo features a sinking fastball and a four-seam fastball that average above 95 MPH this season and mixes in a changeup and slider that average in the mid-80s.

Tonight’s lineup likely would have been the Dodgers’ Opening Day lineup had Kershaw been healthy. The Reds lineup is notable, as five of the nine starters qualify as old friends. Yasiel Puig is the headliner, with Matt Kemp and Kyle Farmer also starting after playing for the Dodgers last season. Scott Schebler had 40 Dodger plate appearances in 2015, and Jose Peraza had 25 in the same year. Perhaps this is the Reds being petty, but it works since Joey Votto is out of the lineup for only the second time this season.

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The Dodgers cleared a spot on the 25-man roster for Kershaw.

Jaime Schultz appeared in three games for the Dodgers and didn’t allow a run in three innings.

Nice. And very on brand. All of it.

Rich Hill will make his rehab start Wednesday against the Padres’ Single-A affiliate. It’s undetermined whether he’ll make a second rehab start or return to the rotation after that one.

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About Alex Campos

Alex Campos
I've been writing about the Dodgers since I graduated from Long Beach State, where I covered the Dirtbags in my senior year. I'm either very good or very bad at puns.