Astros @ Dodgers August 4, 2021: Max Scherzer’s Dodger Debut

The Dodgers (64-44) were shutout in the first of two games against the Houston Astros (65-42) last night, by a score of 0-3. The team managed just five hits and three walks, and was 0-8 with runners in scoring position. After 30 hits and 21 runs in their previous two games, the offense is officially back in business following that up with a zero in a big matchup. Max Scherzer will make his Dodger debut against the team he beat in game seven of the 2019 World Series. Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for Houston, making his 14th start this season.

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6:40 PM Los Angeles
2B Altuve 2B Betts
RF Brantley (L) 1B Muncy (L)
SS Correa 3B Turner
LF Alvarez (L) SS Seager (L)
1B Díaz C Smith
CF Tucker (L) CF Taylor
3B García (S) LF Pollock
C Castro (L) RF Bellinger (L)
P Odorizzi (R) P Scherzer (R)

Houston features the best offense in baseball, with a 120 wRC+ and a .784 OPS, while the Dodgers are tied with the Giants for second in wRC+ at 115, and fourth in OPS at .781. These are also the two best offensive teams against right-handed pitching. Cody Bellinger has been hard to watch on offense, and is unfortunately in the right spot in the order, batting 8th. Before Trea Turner arrives, this is likely the best offensive group the Dodgers can put out. Once Turner does arrive, on paper the best offensive lineup with current performance features Chris Taylor in center field and Bellinger on the bench. Until then, the team needs to continue trying to get Bellinger into the swing of things, but they are 3.5 games out of the NL West as the game starts tonight. On a better note, I’ll take the Dodgers’ offense vs. Odorizzi over the Astros’ offense against Scherzer.

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Here’s the pitching matchup between Scherzer and Odorizzi.

Max Scherzer has been Max Scherzer. He’s had another great season as usual, but has featured a couple recent blow up starts skewing his overall season numbers. Over his first sixteen starts, he had a 2.10 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 0.85 WHIP, and a 35.5% strikeout rate. After that, he faced the Padres twice, giving up seven runs over 3.2 innings in San Diego including a grand slam to Daniel Camarena, a rookie reliever in his second career plate appearance. After that he gave up four runs to the Padres in his next start, this time over seven innings. Besides those two starts, he’s been pretty excellent.

The veteran right-hander recently dealt with a triceps injury but appeared fully healthy in his previous start, allowing only three hits, three walks and one earned run across six innings. He’s missed around three starts thus far, with a couple nagging injuries that’ve popped up. His tricep in his throwing arm bothered him recently, and his groin bothered him early in June, but he appears to be fully healthy now.

His FIP is a little higher than usual this year, because FIP converts a pitcher’s three true outcomes essentially into earned run average form, and his 14.6% home run to fly-ball ratio is the 13th highest among 50 qualified starters, and is the highest mark of his career. Among 90 starters with at least 90 innings pitched, Scherzer is 12th in ERA at 2.76, 6th in strikeout rate at 34.3%, and fourth in WHIP at 0.89. The 37 year-old ace continues to be one of the best pitchers in baseball, with 147 strikeouts and just 28 walks.

Last time out, Odorizzi allowed three runs on five hits and one walk while striking out three over 5.1 innings against the Seattle Mariners. Over his last five starts, he has a 4.62 ERA, 5.14 FIP, and just sixteen strikeouts with nine walks over 25.1 innings. All in all, he’s had a season similar to what he’s done in his past outside of 2020.

His 4.30 ERA and FIP are both above his career averages of 3.94 and 4.13, while his WHIP of 1.14 is just under his career mark of 1.23. His strikeout rate of 21.8% is akin to his career mark of 22.7%, and his walk rate of 7.7% is just under his career 8.1%. He’s basically been the same Jake Odorizzi he was in Minnesota and Tampa Bay. It seems like his 2019 season featuring a 3.51 ERA, 3.36 FIP, with a 27.1% strikeout rate was just an outlier, but who knows. The Astros are undoubtedly smart, and they likely saw upside and value, offering the 31 year-old $23.5 Million over three seasons. He’s throwing his fastball at the lowest rate of his career, around just 20% of the time, replacing it primarily with his sinker that he’s now throwing at a career high rate of nearly 40%.

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Shohei Ohtani is pitching for the Angels as I write this, so the Dodgers won’t have to worry about facing him. Well, at least the offense doesn’t. The pitching staff will still have to face the AL MVP favorite.

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Well, this was definitely interesting. Chad wrote about it more here.

Yefry Ramirez was DFA’d to make room for Cole Hamels.

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Huge if true.

Not great.

Also not great. Jimmy Nelson has been fantastic, but has been dealing with injuries all year. Ryan Pepiot might be in line to get a call up soon.

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First pitch is at 6:40 PM PDT on SNLA.

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!