Giants @ Dodgers June 29, 2021: Gausman vs. Buehler

The Dodgers (48-31), took the first game of this brief two game series against the division leading San Francisco Giants (50-28), by a score of 3-2. It was a hard fought win, and the team tried to give away the lead multiple times, but they managed the win which is all that matters. Regardless, the Dodgers have now won four in a row gaining ground in the NL West, trailing the Giants by just 2.5 games. A win tonight would be huge, cutting the Giants lead down to 1.5 games as they approach the All-Star Break. This won’t be an easy win for either team tonight, as the starting pitchers in Kevin Gausman (8-1), and Walker Buehler (7-1), have just two losses between them.

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7:10 PM Los Angeles
1B Wade Jr. (L) RF Betts
LF Dickerson (L) 1B Muncy (L)
C Posey 3B Turner
SS Crawford (L) CF Bellinger (L)
3B Flores C Smith
CF Duggar (L) 2B Taylor
2B Solano SS Lux (L)
RF Tauchman (L) LF Pollock
P Gausman (L) P Buehler (R)

The Dodgers are using the exact same starting lineup as they did last night. In game 80, they’ve finally used the same lineup in consecutive games. I’ve had to make changes to the lineup in every single thread I’ve written this season. This is nice. This is also their most frequently used lineup, being used for just the fifth time this season. They’re 4-0 using this lineup including yesterday.

Despite the win, the offense managed just five hits, luckily three of them were solo home runs. However, overall they were outhit by the Giants eleven to five. Mookie Betts reached three times including his lead off home run, which is obviously a great development to see. The bats will likely need to be better tonight to get the win against Gausman.

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Here’s how Buehler and Gausman matchup.

Last time out, Buehler took the loss in Thursday’s 4-0 defeat to the Cubs. He allowed three runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts over six innings, good enough for a quality start, but not enough to match a combined no-hitter by Chicago. The loss was his first since 2019 and snapped 23-starts in a row without a loss. He’s faced the Giants twice this season, totaling thirteen innings, allowing just two earned runs on nine hits and four walks with eight strikeouts. Buehler’s spin rate on all his primary pitches have decreased over his last three starts, going from an average of 2593 RPM on his fastball to 2333 RPM in his last outing, and from 3012 RPM with his curveball to 2691 RPM last time out.

Gausman allowed one earned run on four hits and one walk while striking out nine across seven innings in his last outing against the Angels. He’s had one start against the Dodgers thus far, going six innings allowing no runs on just two hits while striking out seven back in May. People monitoring fastball usage and spin rate per game will note than Gausman had his lowest fastball usage of the year last outing at just 38% compared to his season number of 49.5%. This was likely just a game plan decision as his spin rate was nearly exactly the same as his season average, and his main off speed pitch, his nasty splitter, doesn’t use high spin to be a devastating pitch.

He had a bad outing against the Reds in his third start of the year, allowing five of his sixteen total earned runs in that game. Since then, he has a 1.05 ERA and 2.12 FIP over his last twelve starts and 77 innings. If you’d like to read more about Gausman and what’s made him so good this year, this piece by Dan Szymborski of FanGraphs is excellent. If Jacob deGrom didn’t exist, Gausman would likely be the front runner for National League Cy Young, with the second lowest ERA (trailing deGrom), third lowest FIP trailing just deGrom and Zack Wheeler, and third lowest WHIP, trailing deGrom once again, and Brandon Woodruff. Gausman can flat out pitch, and the Dodgers and Buehler need to bring their A games to come out with a win.

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Obviously baseball is baseball, but the Dodgers will have the starting pitching advantage in each of those games besides the matchup against Max Scherzer.

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If you haven’t voted for the All-Star Game, you should go vote.

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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!