Dodgers @ Cubs April 24, 2019: Buehler vs. Hamels

Photo: Sarah Wexler

The Dodgers (15-10) dropped the first of the the three game series to the Cubs (11-10) last night after Kenta Maeda allowed six runs over the first two innings. Julio Urias was the lone bright spot as his first two innings in relief resulted in four strikeouts, no hits and one walk. Tonight, Walker Buehler will start for the Dodgers against Cubs veteran Cole Hamels.

Dodgers
Cubs
5:05 p.m.
Chicago
2B
Hernandez
2B
Descalso
3B
Turner
3B
Bryant
1B
Freese
1B
Rizzo
SS
Seager
SS
Baez
CF
Pollock
LF
Schwarber
RF
Bellinger
C
Contreras
LF
Taylor RF Heyward
C
Barnes
CF
Almora Jr.
P
Buehler (R)
P
Hamels (L)

The Dodgers will run out the same lineup in two consecutive games against the left-handed Hamels. The offense is definitely weaker against left-handed pitching, but they’re still above average. The team has a league leading 133 wRC+ against RHP, compared to a 109 wRC+ against LHP which is ninth in the league. The two left-handed starters in the lineup last night in Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger were 3-for-8 with a double by Bellinger, and the right-handed batters were 3-for-20. The offense just needs to be better than that.

Buehler is coming off his best start of the season, going six and a third against Cincinnati, allowing only three hits while striking out eight. I can’t find the source, but after that start Buehler mentioned that Honeycutt and the pitching staff helped him adjust his arm slot and it yielded his best start of the year. He currently has a 5.40 ERA but that’s paired with a 3.12 FIP, which is 23rd of 120 starting pitchers with 18 or more innings. His 50.9% left-on base rate is the third worst among those 120 starters. This is similar to Gerrit Cole (5.22 ERA, 2.81 FIP) and Noah Syndergaard (5.90 ERA, 2.94 FIP). The league average among starters in 2018 was a 72.6% left-on base rate, so Buehler among Cole and Syndergaard should all regress back to the mean and perform closer to their FIP moving forward.

Hamels has been a top-20 pitcher so far this year, sitting at a 2.77 ERA and a 3.19 FIP. His 3.0% walk rate is the lowest in baseball this season, thus his 0.85 WHIP is second only to Blake Snell (0.76). The Dodgers collective 11.9% walk rate is the second highest in baseball, so it’ll be an interesting matchup between a low walking pitcher and a high walking offense. Hamels also hasn’t been a huge strikeout pitcher so far with a 22.8% strikeout rate, which is exactly league average. Again, another contrast is that the Dodgers offense has been avoiding strikeouts this year, with the fifth lowest rate in baseball at 19.7%. Hamels is coming off a great start against the Marlins, going seven innings striking out eight while only allowing three hits. The Dodgers will have their work cut out for them tonight.

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Dave Roberts continues to back Chris Taylor amidst his struggles, which I applaud and Taylor absolutely deserves. Taylor put up a 113 wRC+ last season and was worth 3.1 fWAR. Thankfully the team also has Alex Verdugo while Taylor is struggling, but getting CT3 back on track has value. Also, I highly doubt Joc Pederson will ever be playable against LHP. He’s currently 1-for-11 against them this year, and put up a .512 OPS against LHP last season.

Jon Lester will take the third and final start of the series as he’s another left-handed starter and the Cubs are trying to exploit that weakness. It looks like Kyle Hendricks would’ve been slated to start, but Lester is returning from the IL and matches up well against the Dodgers.

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First pitch is at 5:05 PT on SNLA or KTLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Allan Yamashige
Just a guy living in Thousand Oaks, CA who happens to love the Dodgers and statistics. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about adults doing baseball is alright.