Dodgers @ Padres June 23, 2021: Bauer vs. Musgrove

Despite a late charge last night, the Dodgers (44-29) dropped the second game of the series against the Padres (44-32) by a score of 3-2. They are 9-14 in one run games, which is the sixth worst record in baseball, and now trail the Giants (48-26) by 3.5 games in the NL West. The team is currently still 1.5 games ahead of the Padres, and will leave this series second in the NL West regardless of the result tonight. The Dodgers have now scored just four runs in their last 22 innings, and they’re up against Joe Musgrove tonight, who has been one of the best starters in the league. Luckily, the Dodgers will have Trevor Bauer on the mound against him, making this matchup relatively equal.

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7:10 PM San Diego
2B Taylor LF Pham
1B Muncy (L) SS Tatis Jr.
3B Turner 2B Cronenworth (L)
CF Bellinger (L) 3B Machado
C Smith 1B Hosmer (L)
LF Beaty (L) RF Myers
SS Lux (L) CF Grisham (L)
RF McKinstry (L) C Caratini (S)
P Bauer (R) P Musgrove (R)

The most notable changes from last night include Cody Bellinger returning to action, batting cleanup, while Mookie Betts sits after dealing with a stomach issue yesterday. Last night, the team was 2-8 with runners in scoring position, and left a total of ten runners on base with five walks and eight hits. They had the offense needed to win that game, but they just couldn’t make it happen. After the all right-handed outfield against Blake Snell last night, the team runs out an all left-handed outfield against Musgrove. Matt Beaty, Bellinger, and Zach McKinstry will all start in the outfield, and the left-handed Gavin Lux will start at shortstop. Even after going 0-4 last night, and with Austin Barnes hitting a pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning, Will Smith starts behind the plate again. Smith has actually posted reverse splits this season, with a 171 wRC+ and .981 OPS against right-handed pitching, compared to 70 wRC+ and .616 OPS against LHP. This is similar to how he’s been for the entirety of his short career, but he’ll likely improve upon that number against LHP moving forward.

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Here’s how Bauer and Musgrove matchup.

 

Last time out against the Diamondbacks, Bauer went seven scoreless innings during which he allowed three hits and three walks while striking out eight. Prior to his last start, here’s what I had to say regarding his recent form, “After being dominant throughout most of May, Bauer is in the midst of a pretty poor stretch of starts, with a 4.32 ERA over his last four outings with a 1.40 WHIP and eleven walks over 25 innings, resulting in a 10.2% walk rate.” Bauer has pitched twice against the Padres this season, allowing three earned runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out sixteen over twelve innings. All three runs came on solo home runs, two allowed to Fernando Tatis Jr. and one to Jake Cronenworth, who is quickly becoming a bonafide Dodger killer.

With the crackdown on foreign substances and mandatory checks on all pitchers as of late, I’m sure it’ll be interesting to see how this affects pitchers such as Bauer. He’s infamous for being outspoken about spin rate, but then also drastically increasing his own spin rate prior to last season. His average four-seam fastball spin rate last time out against Arizona was 2474 RPM, compared to his current season average of 2795. For Musgrove, his spin rate is up across the board this season as well, so all pitchers will be interesting to monitor moving forward, especially those that’ve seen upticks in performance as of late.

Last time out, Musgrove allowed just four hits and three walks while striking out two over seven scoreless innings against the Cincinnati Reds. There is a valid argument that he’s been the best starter on the Padres this year, despite the presence of Yu Darvish. His 2.28 ERA, 3.11 FIP, and 0.85 WHIP are all ahead of Darvish, as is his 31.5% strikeout rate. Those figures are also all top ten in baseball. He’s been really really good. He also threw a no-hitter against the Rangers in his second start of the season, since then he’s still been great with a 2.81 ERA, 3.61 FIP, and 1.00 WHIP. He’s also been stellar in his last six outings, with a 1.54 ERA, 2.82 FIP, and 0.71 WHIP as of late. He bounced back in that recent start against the Reds, as he was coming off two mediocre starts against the Mets, allowing three runs in each start to a below-average New York offense. In his one start against the Dodgers this season, he lasted only three innings, allowing one run on three hits and two walks. The team let him off the hook in that game as he had to face 17 batters to get nine outs and left the game with the bases loaded. Long story short, he’s been one of the better pitchers in baseball and the Dodgers will need to show up to avoid being swept.

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To start the season, Corey Knebel briefly looked like he could be the most important high leverage reliever in the Dodgers’ bullpen. Getting him back towards the end of the season in what could be a tight division race, and heading into the playoffs would be huge.

It seems the team is still targeting early July for a potential return for Corey Seager, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team hold him back until after the All-Star Break which would be July 16 – almost exactly two months after the injury.

Maybe the Dodgers watched Tigers’ pitcher Beau Burrows throw up on the mound in his season debut and figured, well it can’t get worse than that.

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Andy Burns was optioned to make room for Bellinger, as expected.

Bellinger has a good point here, he’s a Rookie of the Year, National League MVP, two time All-Star, Gold Glove Center Fielder, and 2020 World Series Champion. He doesn’t have anything that he needs to prove.

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First pitch is at 7:10 PM PDT on SNLA and ESPN.

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!