Dodgers @ Braves June 5, 2021: Kershaw vs. Morton

Coming off a 9-5 win on Friday night, the Dodgers are set to take on Charlie Morton and the Braves, in a rematch of Game 3 of the 2020 World Series. Clayton Kershaw goes for LA.

4:20 p.m. Atlanta
RF Betts RF Acuña Jr.
3B Turner 1B Freeman
CF Bellinger 2B Albies
2B Taylor 3B Riley
1B Beaty SS Swanson
SS Lux LF Adrianza
LF McKinstry CF Heredia
C Barnes C Smith
P Kershaw (L) P Morton (R)

Kershaw is coming off the rare poor start against the Giants, so you know he’s looking to bounce back with a strong outing. The last time he faced the Braves, it was Game 4 of the ’20 NLCS. He allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings in a game the Dodgers lost by a 10-2 margin. It was the last game they lost in that series.

Kershaw, a free agent after the 2021 season, is turning in a solid campaign to date. He has a 3.33 ERA, 3.18 FIP and a 23.0 K-BB% in 70 1/3 innings of work. He has already topped his 2020 regular season workload (58 1/3 IP) but he was actually throwing better last season. His fastball velocity — something we monitored a lot last season — is down to 90.7 MPH. It was 91.6 MPH last season. Opponents are hitting .303 with a .329 expected batting average, .563 xSLG and an ugly .404 xwOBA. It has been his worst pitch of the three he throws, with his slider and curveball significantly outperforming the heater. As such, he has reduced his fastball usage to the lowest number of his career. He’s only throwing it 36.3% of the time. His slider usage is up to 47.4% — a 6.3 percentage point increase from last season. His Whiff% and PutAway% on the slider has improved from last season, which helps make up for the regressing fastball.

In terms of the lineup, the Dodgers are giving Max Muncy the day off because of a sore right ankle. He’s day-to-day, just as we all are. Muncy has been excellent this season, hitting .265/.424/.530 with a 165 wRC+, but he’s in a little bit of a slump in his last 10 games — .162/.262/.459, so a day off make some sense. Still, the Top 4 in the lineup are as good as any Top 4 in the majors right now. Such a luxury. Matt Beaty starts at first base in Muncy’s stead. The Braves are running out a similar lineup to last night, with Kevan Smith in at catcher for William Contreras.

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Kershaw has a chance to pass an Atlanta legend on the all-time strikeout list today.

Those ’90s Braves’ pitching staffs were fun to watch, even if they got some generous strike calls at times.

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If you’re looking for someone to watch on the minor-league side, Bobby Miller starts today for Great Lakes.

Also, Miguel Vargas and Andy Pages are becoming must-see TV for the Loons.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.