Dodgers @ Angels May 8, 2021: Battle between the two worst teams in California

(Via)

The Dodgers (17-16) dropped another game last night, as the Angels (14-17) take the first game of the freeway series. These two Southern California behemoths have a combined ten wins in their last eighteen games each for a combined record of 10-26. Amazing. Over that stretch, the Dodgers 4-14 record is the second worst in baseball, ahead of only the Detroit Tigers (3-15), and 9-24 overall. The Angels 6-12 record also isn’t exactly ideal for a team that aspires to make the postseason for the first time since 2014. These teams now trail the three other teams in California, the Oakland Athletics (21-14), the San Francisco Giants (20-13), and the San Diego Padres (18-16).

Clayton Kershaw will take the mound on three days rest up against Dylan Bundy, as the Dodgers attempt to avoid losing their fifth consecutive series.

6:07 PM Anaheim
RF Betts 2B Fletcher
SS Seager (L) DH Ohtani (L)
3B Turner CF Trout
1B Muncy (L) LF Upton
DH Smith 1B Walsh (L)
CF Taylor SS Iglesias
LF Beaty (L) RF Ward
2B Lux (L) 3B Rojas (L)
C Barnes C Suzuki
P Kershaw (L) P Bundy (R)

Well, the Dodgers lost one of their hottest hitters in AJ Pollock last night after he suffered a grade one hamstring strain fielding a ball in left field. Matt Beaty will start in his place. Additionally, Will Smith will shift over to designated hitter as Austin Barnes will catch Kershaw today as usual. The team totaled thirteen baserunners yesterday on eight hits and five walks, while the Angels had fourteen baserunners on thirteen hits and one walk. The Dodgers managed to lose that game by seven runs. The team left ten on base and was one for eleven with runners in scoring position. The Angels only left five on base and went six for ten with runners in scoring position. I mean it’s really astonishing how the Dodgers have managed to lose so well lately. Whether it’s defense, baserunning, starting pitching, relief pitching, batting, extra innings, first innings, shutdown innings — you name it and they’ve managed to lose that way. Certain pieces of the offense looked better yesterday, as Mookie Betts reached base three times including a solo home run, while Corey Seager walked twice and Chris Taylor managed two hits as well.

The Angels will run out nearly the exact same lineup as yesterday, with the lone change being Kurt Suzuki replacing Drew Butera behind the plate. Mike Trout will be looking to get out of a slump and get his batting average (.385) back up to .400, and his on-base percentage (.496) back over .500. The Dodgers offense could really use a guy like Mike Trout. Offensively, if you’re going to get beat by the Angels, lose to Trout, Shohei Ohtani, and Jared Walsh. Not to Jose Iglesias, Taylor Ward, and Butera.

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Here’s how Kershaw and Bundy matchup.

Kershaw is coming off his worst performance of the season and the shortest outing of his career against the Cubs in the first game of the doubleheader last Tuesday. He allowed four runs in the first inning and threw 39 pitches resulting in him being pulled after just one inning. The shortest outing he had prior to that was in 2010 after one and one third innings. He’ll now be starting on three days rest for this first time since 2016 which is pretty astonishing, but the circumstances indicate that shouldn’t be an issue because his prior shortened outing. He also walked two in that first inning which is surprising considering he had only walked five batters over his first six starts. Even adding in those two walks in one inning, he still has the eleventh lowest walk rate in the league at 4.4%. Additionally, he didn’t get any help from his defense as Seager had trouble with a ball that should’ve been an inning ending double play. He’ll look to put that one in the past and get back on track today.

Bundy is coming off two of his best starts of the season, going six innings and allowing two runs in each. Even though it was a shortened season last year, with the absence of Ohtani, Bundy stepped up and became the Angels’ ace, posting the best season of his career. This featured a 3.29 ERA, 2.95 FIP, and a 1.04 WHIP in eleven starts over 65.2 innings. If you care, this is a cool analysis by Ben Clemens on FanGraphs from last month on what’s made Bundy so successful as of late. He sits 91-94 with the fastball, while mixing in a slider, curveball, and a changeup as his off-speed pitches. Among 41 starters in the American League last season, his 2.95 FIP trailed only Shane Bieber (2.07), Zack Greinke (2.80), and Framber Valdez (2.85). His ERA (3.29) was also thirteenth in the AL, while his 1.04 WHIP was eighth. Overall, that landed him a ninth place finish in the AL Cy Young voting. He hasn’t had the same start to his season, but he gets to face what is seemingly the worst offense in baseball, so it’s a great opportunity for him.

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This is a summary of pretty much all the new information prior to the game tonight. Pollock should likely take more time off, but with his injury history, I’m sure the team knows how to handle that.

DJ Peters is back as he looks to potentially make contact with a high fastball, and Edwin Uceta is optioned.

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First pitch is at 6:07 PM PST 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!