After a three game sweep against the Pirates, the Dodgers (37-25) look to build on their three game win streak with a home series against the last place Texas Rangers (24-39). Also, coming off that sweep, they’re now just a game and a half out of first place in the NL West, trailing only the Giants (38-23). Clayton Kershaw will start the first game against the Rangers tonight, up against Mike Foltynewicz in his first season with Texas.
|7:10 PM||Los Angeles|
|RF||Gallo (L)||CF||Bellinger (L)|
|P||Foltynewicz (R)||P||Kershaw (L)|
The most notable adjustment in the lineup tonight, is Will Smith catching Kershaw for the first time this season, and for the second time over the last two seasons. Once again, as the Dodgers seem to be getting healthy and into the swing of things, the team puts out what is likely their best overall lineup. Going into this series, the Dodgers feature the third best wRC+ in baseball at 110, where the Rangers are 24th at 87. Like I mentioned in the previous series, the Dodgers also feature the best wRC+ against right-handed pitchers at 116, providing good matchups for the team against the right-handed Foltynewicz, and Dane Dunning, starting Sunday for the Rangers.
The Rangers also feature two former Dodgers in Willie Calhoun and Charlie Culberson. Calhoun was the main prospect traded for Yu Darvish in 2017, and Culberson will always be a legend for his 2016 division clinching walk-off homer.
Here’s how Foltynewicz and Kershaw matchup.
Foltynewicz is in his first year with the Rangers after six seasons with the Braves. He threw just 3.1 innings last season, with his fastball averaging 91 MPH in that outing, prior to 94 the season prior. It’s good to see his velocity back up to 94 MPH for both his four-seam and his sinker this year. He also mixes in a low to mid 80’s slider as his primary off speed pitch. His performance hasn’t been great this year, but to be honest he hasn’t had many strong years outside of his 2018 season where he was an All-Star and finished 8th in Cy Young voting with a 2.85 ERA.
Foltynewicz took the loss in his most recent start, allowing five runs on eight hits and no walks while striking out two over 3.2 innings. He has just ten strikeouts over his last 26.1 innings and five starts, resulting in an 8.6% strikeout rate. Overall his 16.4% strikeout rate is the lowest of his career, and the fourth lowest amongst seventy starters with at least sixty innings pitched.
Meanwhile with Kershaw, amongst those same seventy starters, his 28.3% strikeout rate is 16th, close to Darvish (29.9%) and Lucas Giolito (30.4%). Additionally, his 2.89 FIP is still the lowest of his career since his 2016 season. Additionally, If you like DRA, Kershaw is 12th at 3.41 and Foltynewicz is 67th at 5.94. Prior to his last two starts Kershaw had a 2.94 ERA, 2.71 FIP and a 0.90 WHIP over those first eleven starts. However, in those last two starts he’s given up ten earned runs over twelve innings, with fifteen hits and four walks. He has had a .406 batting average on balls in play over those two starts and a .500 BABIP in his most recent start against Atlanta. He’s been pitching better than his ERA shows, as his trend this season has been either great starts or bad starts. Of his thirteen starts, he’s allowed five earned runs in four separate starts and eleven earned runs over his other nine.
It’s good to see that Corey Seager is seeming to make his recovery right on schedule. He broke his hand on 5/15, and with an estimated recovery window of six weeks, this seems to be right on track.
First pitch is at 7:10 PM PDT on SNLA.