Dodgers @ Padres June 22, 2021: Kershaw vs. Snell

The Dodgers (44-28) dropped the first game of this road series against the Padres (43-32) last night, by a score of 6-2. They have lost five of the last six to San Diego and are now 3-5 against them this season. Tonight with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, the team will look to capitalize against a struggling Blake Snell. Losing the game against Padres’ ace Yu Darvish is the most acceptable game to lose, as Kershaw has been better than Snell, and Trevor Bauer has been comparable to Joe Musgrove.

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7:10 PM San Diego
CF Betts LF Pham
SS Taylor SS Tatis Jr.
3B Turner 2B Cronenworth (L)
1B Pujols 3B Machado
C Smith RF Myers
2B Muncy (L) 1B Hosmer (L)
LF Pollock CF Grisham (L)
RF Souza Jr. C Rivas
P Kershaw (L) P Snell (L)

After just three hits yesterday, it figures that the team will need as much offensive production as possible to win against a dangerous Padres’ offense. Thus, Will Smith will be catching Kershaw today as Austin Barnes sits. Over the last month, Smith has a 165 wRC+ and .958 OPS over his last 100 plate appearances. After a 120 wRC+ and .760 OPS through May, Barnes is hitting just .148 with a .466 OPS since then. Against a strong team like the Padres, no matter how much Kershaw may prefer Barnes for his game calling, defense, framing, or whatever it may be, you can’t justify a .500 point difference in OPS.

Gavin Lux will sit against the left-handed Snell, as Chris Taylor slots in at shortstop, while the all right-handed outfield consists of AJ Pollock, Steven Souza Jr., and Mookie Betts. Max Muncy will start at second base after being reinstated from the 10-day Injured List. With the team missing three All-Star left-handed batters, it’s nice to have one back in Muncy. Against left-handed pitching, the Dodgers’ best batters are Albert Pujols (1.195 OPS, 226 wRC+), Max Muncy (1.048 OPS, 190 wRC+), and Chris Taylor (.982 OPS, 167 wRC+).

Neither of these teams excel at hitting left-handed pitching, with the Dodgers owning a seventeenth ranked 99 wRC+ and .710 OPS against left-handed pitching, and the Padres featuring a 95 wRC+ and .696 OPS. San Diego also put up four runs on Julio Urias before he got a single out yesterday, so who knows.

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Here’s how Snell and Kershaw matchup this year.

Snell allowed seven runs on nine hits and two walks with just one strikeout in 3.1 innings versus Colorado on Wednesday. It was bad, and most starts have been bad for Snell recently. He has a 9.43 ERA over his last five starts, allowing 22 earned runs in 21 innings. That’s also including his best outing of the season sandwiched in between, a seven inning one hit performance against the Mets. Outside of that start, he’s allowed those 22 earned runs over 14 innings in four of his last five starts, averaging less than four innings per start. I wouldn’t expect him to be that bad tonight, just because it’s almost impossible to continue being that bad. He allowed two runs in each of his two starts against the Dodgers this season, allowing a total of four earned runs in 10.1 innings on nine hits, four walks, while striking out 14. Maybe he’ll figure out how to throw strikes tonight, and additionally does feature a 1.65 ERA, 2.49 FIP, and 0.95 WHIP through six starts at home compared to a 10.36 ERA on the road.

Last time out against the Phillies, Kershaw allowed two runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out nine over six innings. He had a couple ugly starts recently inflate his ERA, allowing five earned runs to both the Braves and Giants, but has rebounded in his last two starts. In those two starts, he’s allowed two earned runs over twelve innings, allowing eleven hits and one walk while striking out 18. He’ll look to continue trending in the right direction, up against the strong Padres’ offense. He has a 1-1 record against San Diego this year, winning a game where he allowed just two hits and two walks over six innings, and losing a game where he allowed three runs on three solo home runs over seven innings. He’s performed better than his 3.36 ERA shows, but will need a strong performance tonight to continue lowering that ERA.

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After making his debut last night, Zach Reks is optioned to make room for Muncy, as expected.

Cody Bellinger has played just sixteen games this season, hopefully after he’s off the IL tomorrow he’ll remain healthy for the rest of the season.

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Unrelated to the Dodgers, but after just a handful of innings, Max Scherzer has been checked for foreign substances three times already and doesn’t seem to be enjoying it. It’s great entertainment though.

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First pitch is at 7:10 PM PDT on SNLA and is the MLB.TV Free Game of the Day (if you’re not in an a blackout area).

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!