After a 3-2 loss last night against the Cardinals (31-24), the Dodgers (32-23) are now 7-13 in one run games and will look to Walker Buehler to lead the team to a series win. The 29 year-old Carlos Martinez will take the mound for the Cardinals as they look to hold their ground in the NL Central.
After this game, the team will be heading into what should be a competitive series against the Atlanta Braves (25-27), and will follow that up with a three game series in Pittsburgh against the Pirates (20-34). This also begins a stretch for the Dodgers where they’re set to play fifteen straight games against teams below .500, although this may be a little disingenuous as the Braves are just two games below .500 and the Phillies (26-29) are right there as well.
|6:10 PM||Los Angeles|
|CF||Carlson (S)||1B||Muncy (L)|
|P||Martínez (R)||P||Buehler (R)|
Austin Barnes will catch Buehler tonight as Will Smith has the night off after two hits last night. Matt Beaty will also have the night off, as Zach McKinstry will start in left field, still looking for his first hit after his return from the Injured List. Max Muncy will slide back to first base as Albert Pujols sits against the right-handed Martínez.
Last night, Mookie Betts came fifteen feet away from what would’ve been a game winning three run home run, but instead ended with an impressive catch by Tyler O’Neill. Separately, Betts still has a 127 wRC+, is 25th in baseball with a .366 on-base percentage, and ninth in strikeout to walk ratio, with 32 strikeouts and 28 walks. Speaking of O’Neill, he’s been great for St. Louis, with a 151 wRC+. He also has a 2.3% walk rate and 35.3% strikeout rate which is fun. Very different type of player.
Overall, the Dodgers still feature the best wRC+ (118), and OPS (.774) against right-handed pitching, so they simply need to hit better than they did last night. Easy. Meanwhile, the Cardinals struggle against right-handed pitching, with an 88 wRC+ which ranks 23rd in the league. Buehler has performed best against right-handed batters this year, and there are only three Cardinals that’ll be batting from the left side tonight. Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson are both switch hitters who perform much better against left-handed pitching, while Justin Williams has been struggling all year long, hitting just .164 with a 51 wRC+.
Here’s how Martinez and Buehler matchup:
Buehler started last Friday against the Giants, going six innings and allowing one earned run on three hits and three walks with three strikeouts. Over his last three starts, he has a 0.90 ERA over twenty innings while allowing just ten hits and two earned runs. However, uncharacteristically, he has allowed eight walks and struck out just fifteen over that stretch as well. Among 91 starting pitchers with at least fifty innings pitched, Buehler is ninth in walk rate at just 4.5%, and eleventh in WHIP at 0.90.
I mentioned earlier that Buehler has performed better against right-handed batters, allowing just a .508 OPS and .216 wOBA against right-handed batters, compared to a .719 OPS and .313 wOBA against left-handed batters. I also mentioned that Carlson and Edman are switch hitters who perform better against left-handed pitchers, as Carlson has a .938 OPS batting right-handed and a .736 OPS batting left-handed, while Edman has a 1.012 OPS right-handed and .677 left-handed.
In his most recent outing, Martínez allowed three runs on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts in six innings against the Diamondbacks. After a solid start to the season, he’s allowed ten earned runs in seventeen innings over his last three starts, a 5.29 ERA. Amongst those 91 aforementioned starters, Martínez is 89th in strikeout rate at 13.6% with just thirty strikeouts in 53.1 innings. He only threw twenty innings last year, but had a bad time with a 9.90 ERA, 6.87 FIP, and a 2.10 WHIP. The 29 year-old right hander is averaging just 93 MPH on his fastball now compared to his first few years in the league when he was sitting in the upper 90’s. He’ll need to be on his game tonight as the Dodgers look to win the series.
Hopefully these two are able to continue their performances before they went on the IL, as they were both piecing together their best stretches of the season. Jimmy Nelson had a 1.26 ERA and 1.04 FIP over his last eleven outings and 14.1 innings pitched with a 42.9% strikeout rate and 10.7% walk rate. He figured out that all he needed to do is throw strikes. Prior to his injury, AJ Pollock had a 1.115 OPS and 203 wRC+ over his last fourteen games.
This should be a competitive series coming up with a repeat of the National League Championship Series. The Dodgers won that series in case anyone forgot.
First pitch is at 6:10 PM PDT on SNLA.