As embarrassing as the no-hitter was on Thursday and frustrating the offense has been early on in these games against the Cubs, scoring just four runs between the 1st and 7th innings, the pitching has been impressive.
The bullpen has allowed 2 runs across 11 2/3 innings against the Cubs, with Phil Bickford and Garrett Cleavinger each responsible for 2 2/3 of that. Chad mentioned Bickford quickly this morning, and while Cleavinger didn’t have the cleanest inning yesterday, he’s started to make good use of his slider this season.
This isn’t to say Cleavinger should absolutely be leaned on in high leverage situations or he’s a lock to become a significant piece of the bullpen, but where his slider ranked in comparison to Jimmy Nelson‘s just seemed at least a little interesting.
I made the qualifications incredibly low here, so of course this could end up looking bad within a few more outings. But a lefty that throws 95 mph and is finding some success with a secondary pitch (a somewhat popular one in the Dodgers’ bullpen?) for what was a relatively low cost seems like a plus. The walk rate, which was noted when the Dodgers acquired him, is still there at 14% in the majors this season. Amazingly, that’s slightly down from his Double-A rates with the Phillies in 2019 but still up from many of his other minor league seasons.
As for today’s starters, Clayton Kershaw faces Adbert Alzolay in the series finale on ESPN. Alzolay has 12 starts this season and 18 for his career with a total of 22 appearances. He allowed 2 runs on 3 hits and 1 walk in 5 innings against the Dodgers back on May 5. Striking out 7, Alzolay got four with his slider while also whiffs or called strikes on 8 of his 16 fastballs.
Take away a 5-walk game in 3 innings against the Padres on June 7 and Alzolay has walked just 12 across 59 1/3 innings. And while he’s done well to keep the ball on the ground at 46% this season, he has allowed 12 home runs this year with at least one in 7 of his last 9 starts. That includes one by Max Muncy (who is not in tonight’s lineup) in May to account for one of three hits.
Meanwhile, Kershaw gets a real start against the Cubs after throwing 1 inning back on the May 4 doubleheader. That went incredibly bad, as he allowed 4 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks in his lone inning, needing 39 pitches to get through it.
Clayton has hit exactly 6 IP in five straight starts since throwing 7 2/3 innings against the Astros. After allowing 5 runs apiece to the Giants and Braves, Kershaw has allowed 5 ER (6 total) in his past three outings against the Rangers, Phillies and Padres. He’s also got 25 Ks in those last 18 innings, and added another 9 while allowing 5 runs to the Braves.
|4:08 PM||Los Angeles|
|P||Alzolay (R)||P||Kershaw (L)|
Austin Barnes is behind the plate for Kershaw and Muncy is off again, having been out of the lineup on Tuesday as well, with Matt Beaty taking his place at first. Dave Roberts said it’s a scheduled day off for Muncy and he will play in both games against the Giants, but still it seems a little questionable with the off day coming on Wednesday anyway.
As mentioned, it’s Sunday Night Baseball tonight with first pitch set for 4:08 p.m. PT.