Dodgers @ Rockies September 17, 2020: Last Road Trip of the Season

(Via)

Coming off a series win against the Padres, the first place Dodgers (35-15) head to Colorado for the first time this season to face the fourth place Rockies (22-26). Julio Urias will take the mound for the opening game of this four game series. The left-handed Kyle Freeland will start for Colorado as both teams approach the end of the season.

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5:40 P.M. Denver
RF Betts LF Tapia (L)
SS Seager (L) SS Story
DH Turner RF Blackmon (L)
1B Muncy (L) 3B Arenado
C Smith CF Pillar
CF Bellinger (L) DH Kemp
2B Taylor 1B Fuentes
LF Hernandez 2B Hampson
3B Rios (L) C Wolters (L)
P Urias (L) P Freeland (L)

Among 261 batters with at least 100 plate appearances this season, Will Smith currently ranks 6th in wRC+ at 175, and 6th in OPS at 1.034. Both of those marks lead a team that also includes Mookie Betts and Corey Seager — impressive stuff. Speaking of those two, they continue to be the first two batters to come to the plate, followed by a seemingly healthy Justin Turner. Cody Bellinger slides down to sixth, while Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez play over AJ Pollock and Gavin Lux. The Dodgers currently rank fifth in OPS at .803 and fifth in wRC+ at 117.

Meanwhile, the Colorado offense continues to struggle featuring a .731 OPS, which is 16th in the league, but their wRC+ of 79 is 28th after adjusting for playing in the hitter friendly Coors Field. Regardless, they feature three premium offensive players in Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, and Nolan Arenado. The stud third baseman has struggled this season, but he’s always a threat to opposing pitchers.

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Urias (3.53 ERA, 4.04 FIP), has allowed a .701 OPS and a 1.41 WHIP against right-handed batters this season, compared to .606 and 0.94 against left-handed batters. Thus far he has an 8.00 ERA in the first inning, allowing a .950 OPS, nearly identical to that of Seager (.930). After the first inning, he has just a 2.36 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, allowing just a .594 OPS, lower than that of Kershaw (.622) at the plate in 2018. Urias allowed just one run on three hits over six innings against the Astros in his last start, so he’ll look to build on that as we approach the postseason.

Freeland is coming off two consecutive impressive outings, allowing just two runs on seven hits over 12 innings during his last two starts. He’s had a solid season thus far, featuring a 3.54 ERA and 4.19 FIP. The Dodgers are yet to face him this season, but they scored seven runs off him over two starts and five and two thirds innings in 2019. That was a tough season for Freeland, coming off a fourth place result in the 2018 Cy Young voting. He’s looking more like himself as of late, so the Dodgers will have to show up tonight.

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In other news,

The biggest news is Caleb Ferguson opting to have Tommy John surgery, ending his 2020 campaign. It was the best of his young career, featuring a 2.89 ERA and 27 strikeouts in just eighteen and two thirds innings. An awful break for the team, but more so for Ferguson himself. Injuries are terrible and it’s incredibly unfortunate for him to have this happen during his best season so far. This will almost 100% put him out for the 2021 season as well.

As Kershaw continues to have his personal catcher, it only makes sense to put Smith’s bat into the middle of the lineup regardless.

The division isn’t locked up yet, but regardless the team seems to be experimenting with these bullpen games as they prepare for all their possibilities during the playoffs.

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First pitch is at 5:40 PT on SNLA.

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.