Reds @ Dodgers April 28, 2021: Kershaw to avoid the sweep

After their deflating 6-5 loss last night, the Dodgers are now 3-7 in their last ten games, have lost five of their last six, three in a row, and two consecutive series. The good news however, is that if you missed the first 24 games of the season and had no knowledge of what had transpired to get there, you would see the Dodgers tied for first in the NL West and with the second-best record in baseball. It would be surprising to hear that the Giants (15-9) would be the team the Dodgers were tied with in the West and that the Kansas City Royals (14-8) had the best winning percentage in baseball at .636. 15-9 is nothing to scoff at, and when the team manages to stop this skid they’ll be in fine shape.

For now though, they will be trying to avoid getting swept by the Reds (11-12) who had lost seven in a row coming into this series. Clayton Kershaw will be on the mound for the Dodgers up against Sonny Gray and the Reds.

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1:10 PM Los Angeles
CF Senzel RF Betts
LF Winker (L) SS Lux (L)
RF Castellanos 3B Turner
1B Votto (L) 1B Muncy (L)
SS Suárez 2B Taylor
3B Moustakas (L) LF Pollock
C Stephenson RF Raley (L)
2B Farmer C Barnes
P Gray (R) P Kershaw (L)

Cincinnati has the sixth highest wRC+ in the league at 109, led by Jesse Winker and his 216 wRC+ and 1.183 OPS, and Nick Castellanos with a 172 wRC+ and 1.021 OPS. Those two accounted for five of the Reds ten hits last night, featuring a home run and two doubles. Their best hitters were the main contributors to their offense. Crazy concept.

There isn’t much to say about the offense as of late. Will Smith finally broke out of his slump with a three run home run to left center last night. Overall though, the team managed just three other hits along with eight walks. Don’t get me wrong, walks are great – the best players and teams control the strike zone well and walk a lot. The issue is that when you can only get three hits, there just isn’t a way to drive those runners home. Regardless, the team has now scored 19 runs in the last four games or 4.75 runs per game, just below their season average of 4.88 which is sixth in the league. They’re also 1-3 in those four games due to pitching, but they’ll get out of it sometime.

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Here’s how Gray and Kershaw matchup.

Kershaw is coming off a decent start against San Diego where he allowed three runs on five hits and one walk over seven innings. Honestly, he looked perfectly fine but gave up a solo home run to Wil Myers and ran into the wrecking ball that is Fernando Tatis Jr. who managed to take Kershaw deep twice. Outside of those three solo home runs, Kershaw allowed only two hits and one walk. Prior to that he was coming off two scoreless starts, going six innings against the Padres and the Nationals. Outside of the season opener at Coors Field, he now features a 1.38 ERA, 2.69 FIP, and a 0.73 WHIP in his last four starts, striking out 29 while walking three. He’ll look to bounce back from the hiccup that was his prior outing and get things back on track for himself and the Dodgers

Gray got a late start to his season due to a back injury just prior to the season opener, and will be making just his third start of the year. He was hit around during his last start, allowing five earned runs on six hits and three walks over three and two thirds innings. He has gone 46 straight starts without allowing more than six hits, which is the longest streak in MLB history. He threw 85 pitches last outing, so he’s likely back to a regular workload. Alongside most notably Trevor Bauer and Luis Castillo, Gray was the third starter in a very strong Reds’ rotation in 2020, featuring a 3.70 ERA, 3.05 FIP, and a 1.21 WHIP. While he struck out a career high 30.6% of the batters he faced last season, he was also very prone to giving out walks at an alarming 11.1% rate. In his two brief starts that trend has continued, striking out twelve in eight innings while walking five. This is a 29.3% strikeout rate and 12.2% walk rate.

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Victor Gonzalez returns as DJ Peters gets optioned. Gonzalez will be needed as the remainder of the bullpen is currently struggling, tired, and/or injured.

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This can’t hurt Edwin Rios, as it can’t get worse than his recent plate appearances. It’s tough to watch him go up there and struggle to make contact. Hopefully he turns it around.

This makes sense as the team is currently playing their seventh consecutive game and doesn’t have a day off until next Thursday.

Three pitchers and Keibert Ruiz on the taxi squad, look for them to be maneuvering pitchers around, especially as Friday is a bullpen day.

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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!