Rockies @ Dodgers September 21, 2019: Buehler looks to get the Dodgers to 100 wins

The Dodgers ran away with last night’s game and now find themselves at 99-55, with a chance tonight to become the first National League team to 100 wins. The Astros and Yankees each have 101 wins (Yankees already won today, Astros started like an hour ago) and the Braves are the closest NL team to the Dodgers with 95 wins. The race for home-field (and the sac-bunt race) are really the only things the Dodgers are playing for now, as they head into the final week of the season.

Rockies
Dodgers
6:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
2B
Hampson
1B
Freese
LF
Tapia
3B
Turner
SS
Story
LF
Pollock
RF
Blackmon
CF
Bellinger
3B
McMahon
RF
Taylor
CF
Hilliard
SS
Seager
1B
Fuentes C Martin
C
Wolters
2B
Lux
P
Freeland (L)
P
Buehler (R)

Walker Buehler will make his team-leading 29th start of the season tonight, with the Dodgers seemingly being a bit more weary of his innings/pitch count recently. Buehler hasn’t eclipsed the 100-pitch mark in his last six starts and was pulled after the fifth inning of his last outing at only 71 pitches despite allowing only two runs. His 171 1/3 innings pitched is the most he’s pitched as a professional, so it makes sense that they’re being a little careful with him considering he figures to factor in heavily in October.

This will be Buehler’s fifth meeting with the Rockies in 2019 after dominating them in game 163 last season. He found that same success in one of those starts, striking out a career-high 16 batters in a complete game back in June. In Buehler’s second start of the season, he lasted only five innings against the Rockies (due to his injury-shortened Spring Training) and allowed only one run. His other two starts weren’t pretty. On June 27, Buehler allowed 13 hits and seven runs in Colorado. In his first start of September, Buehler allowed six runs in five innings against the Rockies in LA. However, the Dodgers have won each of those four games.

Chi Chi Gonzalez was originally tabbed to start for the Rockies tonight, but Kyle Freeland will start instead (shoutout Sarah Wexler for tweeting that right before I started writing this part). Freeland hasn’t pitched since August 20 with a groin strain, but will get two starts to try to salvage a rough 2019 season for him. Freeland posted a 2.85 ERA and finished fourth in Cy Young voting in 2018, and figured to be a key component in the Rockies path to contention this season. However, in 99 1/3 innings this season, Freeland posted a 6.98 ERA/6.13 FIP and allowed 25 home runs, after allowing only 17 in over 200 innings in 2018. Freeland was demoted to the minors in June after posting a 10.17 ERA in the month of May, but really hasn’t had it all season. Only five of his 20 starts have been quality starts, with two of those being the bare minimum (six innings, three earned runs).

Freeland saw the Dodgers once in 2019, and it was his worst start of the season per Baseball Reference’s game score. In 3 2/3 innings, Freeland allowed eight runs (seven earned) and seven hits and issued three walks with no strikeouts. A.J. Pollock, Kristopher Negron and Russell Martin each took Freeland deep, and that allowed Tony Gonsolin to pick up a four-inning save.

Justin Turner returns to the lineup after drawing a walk in a pinch-hit opportunity last night. He’s expected to be replaced in the game after three at bats, according to reports yesterday. Max Muncy is dealing with a quad injury, but should be able to pinch hit and should start tomorrow.

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Joe Kelly is dealing with some issues that may keep him from being a postseason workhorse.

Kelly’s only pitched in six games in September and hasn’t pitched since September 18. He’s thrown fewer than 10 pitches in his last two outings and hasn’t pitched a full inning since September 11.

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A reminder today’s game will also be on KTLA in the LA area.

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.