The Dodgers (13-7) travel to Anaheim to begin a three game series with the Angels (7-12), the first of six games the two teams will play this season.
Clayton Kershaw will take the mound, as the Dodgers look to win their third in a row. The 23-year-old Patrick Sandoval will start for the Angels, as they look to get back into the playoff race in the AL West. At 7-12, their record is disappointing, but they’re only two games behind the Rangers for second in their division, which would make the playoffs with the current format.
There are five MVP winners on the field tonight, with a total of nine trophies between them. Albert Pujols, the winner of the 2005, 2008, and 2009 NL MVP, Kershaw, the 2014 NL MVP, Mookie Betts, the 2018 AL MVP, Cody Bellinger, the 2019 NL MVP, and Mike Trout, the 2014, 2016, and 2019 AL MVP. Pujols is well past his prime, and Kershaw isn’t likely to regain MVP form, but these two teams feature at least three future Hall Of Famers in Pujols, Kershaw and Trout, with Betts and Bellinger on similar paths.
|SS||Seager (L)||2B||La Stella (L)|
|CF||Bellinger (L)||DH||Ohtani (L)|
|P||Kershaw (L)||P||Sandoval (L)|
These two teams lead the league in home runs, with the Dodgers at 36 and the Angels at 34. The Angels are led by none-other than Trout with eight, while Betts leads the Dodgers with seven. Seems about right.
Both teams have struggled against left-handed pitching this season, with the Dodgers 84 wRC+ ranking 23rd and the Angels (83) ranking 24th. Max Muncy will sit for the first time this season, leaving Justin Turner as the only Dodger to start every game so far. Turner has been heating up as of late, with a .994 OPS over the last eight games. Betts … well, if you remove the first series of the season against the Giants, he’s slashing .385/.448/.904 for a 1.352 OPS and 258 wRC+. Ridiculous. Corey Seager will start at shortstop, returning to the field for the first time since August 7th after tweaking his back.
Sandoval had a 5.03 ERA over 39 innings last season, but has started 2020 with just a 2.70 ERA over his first two starts. He’ll look to build upon his strong start, however as per usual, the Dodgers are a tough draw.
Kershaw gave up three solo home runs last time out, going just four and a third, allowing four runs. While suboptimal, he still managed to strikeout six, which is promising. Good things usually happen when Kershaw is missing bats.
With Will Smith still bothered by his collision with Fernando Tatis Jr. on August 3rd, the Dodgers will need another catcher on the roster incase something were to happen to Austin Barnes. The likely option would be Keibert Ruiz, as he’s the third catcher on the 40-man roster.
Personally, I’d like to see Kenley Jansen get his first innings at catcher since 2009 in Triple-A.
Alex Wood looks to be on his way back, however his role once back remains unclear. Tony Gonsolin looked great on Wednesday, striking out eight through four and two thirds. He’s yet to allow a run through almost nine innings thus far, and is likely making another start next week.
Obviously it’s a limited sample size thus far, but Betts is batting .440 with a 1.517 OPS while batting leadoff this season. In his 2018 MVP season, he hit leadoff in 608 of his 614 plate appearances. This season, of his 79 plate appearances, 50 have been batting second. If Betts wants to lead off, he absolutely should, no questions asked.
First pitch is at 6:40 PT on SNLA and FS1.