Dodgers @ Mariners April 20, 2021: Clash of the NL and AL league leaders

After the loss last night, the Dodgers (13-4) still own the best record in baseball, even after dropping two in a row. Somehow, the Seattle Mariners (11-6) are tied with the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the American League, after going 27-33 last season.

Julio Urias will take the mound for the Dodgers as they look to split the series and pick up some momentum going into a four game series with the Padres. The left-handed Marco Gonzales will be on the hill for the Mariners trying to stop that, as Seattle looks to win this two game mini-series.

1:10 P.M. Seattle
CF Taylor RF Haniger
SS Seager (L) CF Lewis
3B Turner 3B Seager (L)
DH Smith 1B White
2B Muncy (L) C Murphy
RF McKinstry (L) DH Torrens
LF Pollock LF Trammell (L)
1B Ríos (L) 2B Moore
C Barnes SS Crawford (L)
P Urías (L) P Gonzales (L)

Mookie Betts is out today after getting hit in the arm by a high 90’s fastball in the ninth inning last night. I’ll get to it later, but it appears that he’ll be totally fine as it was luckily below the hand and wrist area. After a full day of rest, Max Muncy will return to the lineup at second base with Edwin Rios covering first once again. Austin Barnes will start at catcher as Will Smith will be the designated hitter today. This might be beneficial for Smith who has looked like he’s pressing at the plate lately, with just two hits in his last five games and 22 plate appearances. It’s looked like the awful strike zones that have been prominent as of late has affected his batting the most, as he typically works off his control of the strike zone. He finally ripped a liner last night with runners on in the eighth inning, but third baseman Dylan Moore made a great play to keep Smith hitless. He’ll be fine. Also, someone get Corey Seager to hit hit the ball in the air again like he did for his two-run home run last night. He’s fourth in the league in balls hit over 95 mph, but 121st in average launch angle at 3.3 degrees, down from 11.6 degrees last year. The Dodgers’ 121 wRC+ still ranks second in baseball, trailing only the Boston Red Sox (128). The team however has only eleven hits in the last three games, and that’s exactly how you lose two in a row.

Kyle Lewis, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year was activated today and will be making his season debut in center field. He hit eleven home runs in the shortened season with five steals, a .801 OPS and a 126 wRC+. Taylor Trammell who had two runs batted in last night will shift over to left field, and Jose Marmolejos who hit the two run shot off Dustin May will have the day off against the left-handed Urias.

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Here’s how Urias and Gonzales matchup.

Urias had the worst start of his season last time out, allowing four runs over six innings against the Colorado Rockies. He allowed a run in the first inning of that game for the second consecutive outing. Here’s what I had to say about that trend prior to his start against Colorado, “In 2020 he allowed a total of ten runs in the first inning during his ten starts for a 9.00 ERA, while he allowed only ten runs in his other 45 innings for a 2.00 ERA. Hopefully he finds a way to get this under control and not struggle there as he has previously”. He will need to get this figured out, and for a team that’s lost two in a row and been struggling offensively, it’s very detrimental to start the game behind. After the day off tomorrow, the Dodgers will play the Padres again in a four game series at home, so it’d be super beneficial to have a solid outing from Urias today to gain some momentum going into another tough series.

Gonzales has been bad this year, no doubt about that. Among 80 starters with at least 15 innings pitched, his 8.22 ERA is the third highest, while his 8.05 FIP is the second highest. It’s been ugly, but that’s historically out of character for Gonzales. From 2018 through the 2020 season, there are 70 qualified starters with at least 300 innings pitched. He ranks 17th of those 70 with 9.2 fWAR, just ahead of Walker Buehler at 8.8. He’s also higher than guys like Clayton Kershaw and Blake Snell, both at 8.1 fWAR. He’s not an All-Star, but he’s a reliable and consistent above average starter. He’s also coming off the best year of his career, featuring a 3.10 ERA, a 3.22 FIP, and a league leading 2.5% walk rate, allowing just seven walks over 69.2 innings. His 0.95 WHIP was the fifth lowest among all starters in the league last season, trailing only Kenta Maeda (0.75), NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer (0.79), Dinelson Lamet (0.86), and AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber (0.87).

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It does seem like the Dodgers completely dodged a bullet here.

Like I said.

It makes sense to continue carry as many pitchers as possible, especially considering how many will likely be used in the upcoming series which will likely feature a lot of high leverage situations. It would be nice to not have to load manage the bullpen like they did on Sunday.

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First pitch is at 1:10 PM PT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!