Pirates @ Dodgers August 17, 2021: Crowe vs. Price

After scoring 14 runs Sunday night in New York, it seemed as if nearly everyone was looking sharp and ready to beat up on the Pittsburgh Pirates (42-77). The Dodgers (73-46) followed that performance up with two runs on five hits last night, both solo home runs late in the game by Billy McKinney, and Max Muncy. At this point in the year, a win is a win. They managed to pull out a victory in a one run game, while also winning two extra inning games this previous weekend. Maybe they’re figuring it out? Who knows. It’s nearly impossible to be as bad as they’d been in those situations forever.

David Price takes the mound tonight in the second game of the series against the Pirates, while the 26 year-old right-hander Wil Crowe starts for Pittsburgh.

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7:10 PM Los Angeles
SS Newman 2B Turner
3B Hayes SS Seager (L)
CF Reynolds (S) C Smith
1B Tsutsugo (L) CF Bellinger (L)
C Stallings LF Pollock
RF Polanco (L) 1B Beaty (L)
2B Castro (S) RF Taylor
LF Gamel (L) 3B Lux (L)
P Crowe (R) P Price (L)

Pittsburgh is one of the worst offensive teams against left-handed pitching this season, with an 84 wRC+ and a .674 OPS against them, both ranking 29th in baseball. On the other hand, the Dodgers have one of the best offenses against right-handed pitching, with the first ranked wRC+ at 120, and the third highest OPS at .802.

After missing almost a month exactly, Gavin Lux is back in the lineup after a hamstring injury back in July. He’s had an underwhelming season thus far with a .656 OPS and an 83 wRC+, but has primarily struggled against left-handed pitching. He has a .409 OPS and 23 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, compared to a .739 OPS and a 103 wRC+ against right-handed pitching. Due to these platoon splits and with the addition of Trea Turner and return of Corey Seager, I’d expect that he primarily plays against right-handed pitching when one of Seager, or either Turner needs a rest. It’s also nice to have speed off the bench in one run and extra inning games.

In August, the Dodger offense has been led by Will Smith (1.143 OPS), Cody Bellinger (.932 OPS), and Max Muncy (.917 OPS). Smith has eight home runs in his last 22 games, and has a 1.116 OPS and a 192 wRC+ post All-Star Break. What matters most right now, is that the Dodgers are currently still in second place in the NL West and trail the San Francisco Giants (77-42) by four games. However, for fun – the team has six position players among the top 20 in National League fWAR. Muncy (4.7), Trea Turner (4.4), Smith (3.7), Chris Taylor (3.6), Justin Turner (3.4), and Mookie Betts (3.3).

Justin Turner and Muncy are having scheduled rest days tonight, but will likely be available off the bench if need be.

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Here’s how Price and Crowe matchup.

Last Wednesday in Philadelphia, Price allowed two runs on five hits and one walk over four innings, with just one strikeout. He has a respectable 3.58 ERA, 3.95 FIP, and 1.19 WHIP as a starter in nine total starts over 32.2 innings this season. He’s allowed a couple runs in both his recent starts, once against the Angels, and that last time out against the Phillies. He threw 51 pitches in his last outing, and still isn’t completely stretched out to be a starter that goes 90+ pitches consistently, but the team likely hopes to get five innings from him when he goes out there. His season high is 74 pitches, so depending on how his outing is going, he can stay out there for awhile.

To follow him up, I assume that mostly everyone is available outside of Brusdar Graterol and possibly Alex Vesia. Blake Treinen threw just eight pitches last night, while Kenley Jansen threw just eleven, and neither had pitched since Friday night. Jansen and Treinen managed to get the last seven outs of the game last night on just 19 pitches, all of which were strikes which is pretty cool.

Before I get into Crowe, I think it’s important to note that even if someone has performed poorly in the Majors, they’re still one of the best players in the entire world at what they do. Lucas Giolito was a high level prospect, and was awful for quite some time in the Majors before logging back to back seasons in the top seven in Cy-Young voting.

124 starting pitchers have logged at least 80 innings pitched, and among those 124 starters, Crowe is 106th in ERA (5.27), 121st in FIP (5.87), tied with Blake Snell for 116th in WHIP (1.56), and 115th in walk rate (11.1%). He hasn’t been good, but he’s a 26 year-old former second round pick that throws in the mid-90’s. A lot of time to figure things out. In his last outing, he allowed one earned run on four hits and three walks while striking out four across 4.2 innings against the Cardinals.

He had a rough start to the season, with a 7.26 ERA, 6.15 FIP, and a 1.77 WHIP over his first seven starts and 31.0 innings. He was optioned to Triple-A in early June for nearly two weeks, before returning to the rotation on 6/13. He’s made ten starts since then, and has posted a much improved 4.01 ERA, with 47 strikeouts over 49.1 innings. However, it hasn’t all been great as he also has a 5.69 FIP and 1.42 WHIP over that stretch, due to his 10.7% walk rate, allowing 23 walks in that same stretch.

He’s exactly the kind of pitcher that would shut the Dodgers down in a crucial point of their season.

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While the team is missing Mookie Betts, it does help to have two of the top-five position players in the National League, the Cy Young frontrunner, another top-five starter in the NL, and a top-three NL reliever. Obviously, there have been other contributors lately, but you get the idea.

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As I mentioned earlier, Lux is back after recovering from his hamstring injury. Evan Phillips was picked up by the team the other day, and with “TBD” a primary piece in the starting pitching rotation, the team will be rotating through relievers quite often for the time being.

He’ll be making his first career start at third base in the Majors.

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Progress for Clayton Kershaw.

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First pitch is at 7:10 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!