Dodgers @ Diamondbacks Sept. 9, 2020: Going for another series victory

Clayton Kershaw

After another Completely Normal Baseball Game™ last night, the Dodgers (31-12) and Diamondbacks (15-18) will face off again tonight in Phoenix.

It’ll be Clayton Kershaw against Taylor Clarke on the mound. Safe to say that’s a bit of a mismatch as the Dodgers look to lock up another series victory.

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With an ERA at 1.50 and a K% at 30.6%, Kershaw is working his way into the Cy Young discussion despite being a bit behind some of the other front runners in starts and innings. 

ESPN’s Cy Young Predictor isn’t really the best judge of who should win the award, but it sure is hilarious to see Kenley Jansen up there.

With just 6 runs allowed in 36 IP, Kershaw has given up 5 solo homers to make up most of the scoring against him. In his two games against Arizona this season, he’s held the Diamondbacks scoreless across 11 2/3 IP. 

Last week’s start at home included just four baserunners and only one runner reaching second base against Kershaw with 8 strikeouts. Two came against Christian Walker, who has seemingly tortured Kershaw over the past few seasons with four home runs.

Kershaw’s exit velocity, Hard Hit% and Pull% are all up during this season’s small sample, but his GB% is also higher than it has been in the past.

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Opposing Kershaw is Taylor Clarke, who will make his fourth start of the season after entering the rotation back on Aug. 24. He’s topped out at 81 pitches, which he hit in his past two starts, but has averaged 4 IP in his three starts so far.

The Dodgers got a look at Clarke back on Aug. 1 as they won 11-2, with Clarke allowing three runs in 3 IP all off of a three-run homer by Chris Taylor.

He faced the Dodgers five times a year ago, including three starts. The Dodgers connected on a homer in four of the five games in 2019, with Clarke allowing a total of 9 earned runs across 18 1/3 IP. The Dodgers also drew 8 walks to their 8 strikeouts during the three starts, before Clarke was moved to the bullpen for the final month and a half of the season.

Clarke’s currently in the rotation due to Merrill Kelly missing the remainder of the season following surgery to remove a blood clot from his right shoulder. 

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Image
6:40 p.m. Phoenix
RF Betts CF Locastro
SS Seager (L) SS Ahmed
DH Taylor 1B Walker
1B Bellinger (L) DH Escobar (S)
3B Muncy (L) 2B Rojas (L)
CF Pollock 3B Mathisen
C Smith LF Varsho (L)
2B Lux (L) C Kelly
LF Hernandez RF Jay (L)
P Kershaw (L) P Clarke (R)

The top two in the order, Mookie Betts and Corey Seager, are a 9.3 and 7.2 WAR pace for a full 162-game schedule and Will Smith is slashing .246/.397/.590/.987 with a .200 BABIP in his 23 games and 78 PAs this season.

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In the injury news of the day, Justin Turner will hopefully be back pretty soon as the team’s DH.

A little more detail on Walker Buehler following his start last night.

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Team news unrelated to injuries, but important nonetheless.

While Dodger Stadium will host some AL playoff games, it would also host the Dodgers’ three-game series to open the postseason. Still not the best way to handle a 1 vs. 8 or a 2 vs. 7 series, but much better than a completely neutral field.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore
Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.