Dodgers @ Padres August 26, 2021: Scherzer looks to power Dodgers to sweep in San Diego

Truly, I don’t know what to say about that game last night. Chad named it well in the recap, “A Marathon of Ineptitude”. The Dodgers (80-47) ended up taking the win in sixteen innings by a score of 5-3, which truly is all that matters at this point. The team used a total of ten pitchers last night, while the Padres (68-60) used nine. Both sides will be looking to get length out of their respective starters in Max Scherzer and Yu Darvish, for obvious reasons.

The Dodgers are now 15-2 in their last 17 games, have won six series in a row, and still remain 2.5 games behind the Giants (82-44). They can only control their own games, and if they continue to play like this, they will catch the Giants. Those two teams play just three more games against each other, and it’s possible that series next weekend ultimately decides the division.

Image
7:10 PM San Diego
2B Turner RF Tatis Jr.
SS Seager (L) SS Cronenworth (L)
RF Betts 3B Machado
3B Turner LF Pham
LF Pollock CF Grisham (L)
CF Bellinger (L) 1B Profar (S)
1B McKinney (L) 2B Kim
C Barnes C Caratini (S)
P Scherzer (R) P Darvish (R)

There was some truly despicable offense last night, not even just the inability to get hits for either side, but the inability to even put the ball in the air outside of the infield. It’s not asking for a lot, and both teams managed to put on an impressive display of being able to swing through cement-mixer sliders that were asking to be hit back to Los Angeles.

Mookie Betts is back and starting in right field. His performance is clearly somewhat based on his health, and over his last 24 games and 104 plate appearances, he’s slashing .355/.413/.699, for a 1.112 OPS and a 193 wRC+. He’s so good that I have a hard time believing that game goes 16 innings last night if he’s playing. I’d like to think that he also robs that Fernando Tatis Jr. game tying home run that Chris Taylor just missed. No blame goes to Taylor there, it’s a very hard play and he’s not a five time gold glove right fielder like Betts. Hopefully he’s actually feeling much better this time and is able to play most the games down the stretch. Billy McKinney will be playing first base, as Max Muncy reportedly has some minor back tightness after the sixteen inning game last night. McKinney has played 53.2 innings at first base in the Majors, including 29 this year in Milwaukee.

I mentioned it in the first game of the series here, but both offenses perform better against right-handed pitching than they do against LHP. The Dodgers are one of the most potent offenses in the league against RHP, tied for first with a 119 wRC+, and are second in OPS at .795. The Padres have the eleventh ranked wRC+ against RHP at 106, and the tenth highest OPS at .756. Either way, neither team will win if their offenses perform how they did last night.

I mean look at this:

Pitiful.

——

Here’s how Scherzer and Darvish matchup.

Last time Darvish and Scherzer met was back in early July, and it was funny because at the time, these were two of the best pitchers in the National League, and everyone was primed for a pitching duel in San Diego. Both then proceeded to have their worst starts of the season.

In that start, Scherzer gave up seven earned runs over 3.2 innings, capped off by a pinch hit grand slam hit by Daniel Camarena. Camarena is a rookie reliever with a total of 9.1 innings pitched, two of those coming last night, allowing the go-ahead home run to AJ Pollock in the 16th inning.

Last time out, Scherzer labored a bit, but still managed to go five innings allowing just one run with eight strikeouts. In that start, defensive miscues, and some bad luck shot his pitch count through the roof, but he was still able to complete those five innings and put the team in a position to win the game. He’s now 3-0 with the team, and his only no decision was against the Phillies, where he went 3.1 scoreless innings, with six strikeouts before a rain delay ended his start. Over his four starts with the Dodgers now, he features a 2.11 ERA, 2.18 FIP, and a 0.98 WHIP, with 31 strikeouts and four walks over 21.1 innings. Among qualified starters, Scherzer leads baseball in WHIP at 0.91, is sixth in ERA at 2.65, 13th in FIP at 3.37, fifth in DRA at 3.24, and first in strikeout rate at 34.4%.

Last season he had a 3.74 ERA over 12 starts, with both his highest career BABIP against him at .355, and his highest home run to fly-ball rate at 14.3%. I’m sure he would’ve settled in with a full season, but with the 60 game season, he wasn’t able to, and didn’t receive a Cy Young vote. If you throw that out, which I think is fair to do, he’ll be looking for his eighth consecutive top five Cy Young finish which is remarkable.

——

Things have gone downhill quickly for Darvish as of late, and it can be due to a handful of reasons. Most recently he allowed five earned runs over 2.2 innings against the Diamondbacks before he was removed with lower back tightness on 8/12, reinstated from the IL today.

He missed one start in July with left hip inflammation, and then recently missed two starts with that back issue bothering him recently. It’s possible those two injuries have impacted his performance, considering up until mid June he was performing incredibly well. He’s made five starts since returning from that first IL stint, which held him out until after the All-Star Break. In those five starts, he’s allowed 18 earned runs in 26.1 innings, resulting in a 6.15 ERA and a 5.41 FIP. That includes two starts against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and one start against the Rockies in San Diego. He allowed ten earned runs over his two starts before that, upping his ERA over his last seven starts to a whopping 7.13. Through his first ten starts, he had a 1.70 ERA, a 2.70 FIP, and a 0.89 WHIP. Dating back to when the foreign substance checks went into effect around June 21, 135 pitchers have thrown at least 30 innings. Walker Buehler has the lowest ERA since then at 1.61 over 78.1 innings, while Darvish is down at 115th, with a 5.70 ERA. I’m not saying they’re directly related, but.

It’s not all bad however. In 84.0 innings at home, he has a 3.11 ERA, 3.24 FIP, and a 0.95 WHIP, with a 33.3% strikeout rate and a 4.5% walk rate. Pretty elite numbers, even including recent struggles. In his most recent start against the Dodgers, he allowed one run on two hits and one walk over six innings, while striking out eleven. By game scores, three of his best six starts this season have come against the Dodgers. All in all, he’s made three starts against the Dodgers, totaling 20 innings. In those starts, he’s allowed just one run each time, resulting in a 1.35 ERA against the Dodgers, with just seven hits allowed and a total of 29 strikeouts. Gotta say, that’s not ideal. Well, for him it is, for the Dodgers it’s not.

Truly, my only hope here is that the Padres aren’t rushing him back too quickly. I get that they’re watching their playoff chances diminish daily before their eyes, and it’s easy to see a pitcher close to returning and try and get him back in the rotation promptly, but I hope that’s not the case.

——

Alex Vesia rules.

The bullpen has been lights out over this recent stretch.

——

I’m sure Gavin Lux and Matt Beaty will be back. Mookie Betts needed to be activated, while Darien Nunez is back to provide bullpen help after last night’s draining game.

——

First pitch is at 6:10 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!