Dodgers @ Mariners August 20, 2020: Kershaw vs. Kikuchi

After losing a close game last night, the Dodgers (18-8) look to take the second of the two game road “series” in Seattle. This isn’t a huge deal and doesn’t count for much, but the team hasn’t lost a series yet this season, and a loss today would be a series loss, having the two games on the road count as a separate series. They still feature the best record and run differential in baseball, and this is notable because every team besides the Giants are above .500 in the NL West, so they’re in the most competitive division thus far.

They’ll send Clayton Kershaw to the mound against Yusei Kikuchi as they look to start a new winning streak before heading home to face the Rockies.

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4:10 P.M. Seattle
RF Betts LF Haggerty (S)
LF Pollock SS Moore
3B Turner DH Lewis
CF Bellinger (L) 3B Seager (L)
SS Taylor 1B Nola
1B Muncy (L) RF Lopes
2B Hernandez 2B Long Jr. (L)
C Barnes CF Bishop
DH Beaty (L) C Odom
P Kershaw (L) P Kikuchi (L)

AJ Pollock will hit second, as Corey Seager sits for the final game of this series. Matt Beaty will be the designated hitter, and as per usual, Austin Barnes will catch Kershaw. It would be best for Kershaw to keep runners off the bases, as the Mariners have the most stolen bases in the league at 28, and they picked on Barnes in the first two games of the series, swiping a total of four bases on him.

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Kershaw will be making his fourth start of the season, coming off his most promising start thus far. He allowed only one hit over seven innings, a solo shot to Anthony Rendon, while striking out six. He now currently sports a Kershaw-esque 2.65 ERA, but due to his .179 BABIP against and a 100% left on base rate, his 4.61 FIP says otherwise. He also averaged 92.1 MPH on his fastball last time out, his highest since September 30, 2017. That’s his second time topping 92 MPH this season and it’s, well … promising? His current home run per fly-ball rate is 50%, meaning of his eight fly-balls allowed, half have been homers. The highest rate last year was Yu Darvish at 22.8%, so eventually, Kershaw will stop giving up so many homers. It would be nice if that were today.

Meanwhile, Kikuchi has been solid for Seattle this year after a rough first season. He’s currently in the opposite situation as Kershaw, where his 5.28 ERA is misleading and he’s been pitching better than that shows. His 2.23 FIP is seventh in the league among starters with 15+ innings pitched, just behind Shane Beiber. The reason being, is that he has a .350 BABIP against, a 55% left-on-base rate, and is yet to give up a home run on a flyball. He’s likely to improve on his first season (5.46 ERA, 5.71 FIP), but he’s coming off a start where he allowed four runs over five and two thirds innings.

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Pedro Baez has had a rough start to his season, and coming off an outing last night where he gave up a solo home run in the sixth inning, he’ll be placed on the IL. Josh Sborz will be recalled, after pitching only nine innings with the team last year. Alex would appreciate if I said something along the lines of: more like Pedro Bye-z.

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Neither is a team that the Dodgers would have to play, but it’s concerning that the virus is still making it around the league.

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First pitch is at 4:10 PT on SNLA and MLB Network.

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.