Dodgers @ Reds September 18, 2021: Scherzer starts as the team looks to even series with Cincinnati

After compiling a six game winning streak and picking up two games on the San Francisco Giants (96-52), the Dodgers (94-54) put together a pretty poor performance in the series opener against the Cincinnati Reds (77-71). Walker Buehler continues to not be as precise as he had been for the last couple months, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks. Two of those hits were game changing doubles by Kyle Farmer. Luis Castillo looked like the All-Star version of himself he was in 2019, and the offense wasn’t able to do much else after he was removed from the game. It happens. Can’t win every game. Max Scherzer will be starting this morning, up against Sonny Gray.

11:10 AM Cincinnati
RF Betts 2B India
SS Seager (L) LF Schrock (L)
2B T. Turner RF Castellanos
1B Muncy (L) 1B Votto (L)
3B J. Turner 3B Moustakas (L)
CF Taylor SS Farmer
LF Lux (L) C Barnhart (L)
C Barnes LF DeShields
P Scherzer (R) P Gray (R)

Last night, Castillo was great and just mowed through the Dodgers’ lineup. Mookie Betts had a leadoff double, but after the heart of the order stranded him at second, you got the idea that this could be one of those stinker games by the offense. After Castillo was removed, the offense looked better, with at least three balls hit to the warning track that would’ve altered the game if any of them flew ten feet further. Hopefully they just got beat by a pitcher at the top of his game, and they’re ready to put some runs on the board today.

The lineup has a couple changes on Saturday, mainly being Chris Taylor back in center field and Gavin Lux in left field, both back in the starting lineup after injuries. Taylor was out of the lineup the last six games with what has been described as a neck injury, with his lone appearance pinch hitting last night. Lux, who was apparently hit by a pitching machine, is back in left field after missing the game last night with a right forearm contusion. Corey Seager moves up to second in the lineup, as he’s been the most consistent offensive player for the team over the last month. The team had eight baserunners reach last night, and three of them were Seager. Max Muncy drops down to cleanup as he’s been grinding a little bit.

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Here’s how Scherzer and Gray matchup.

In his last start, Scherzer continued to be nothing short of incredible. He notched his 3000th career strikeout, allowing just one hit with nine strikeouts in eight innings. He took a perfect game into the eighth inning, losing it on a one-out Eric Hosmer double. He now hasn’t surrendered a run over his last 29 innings and four starts, and in total with the Dodgers, he now has a 0.88 ERA, 1.26 FIP, and a 0.68 WHIP, with 72 strikeouts and five walks in 51.0 innings. He’s 6-0 with the team and the Dodgers are now 8-0 in his starts. This performance bumped him up to one of the frontrunners for the NL Cy Young award. With Buehler starting yesterday and Burnes and Scherzer today, the Cy Young race will be decided in these next couple starts. Scherzer leads baseball in ERA at 2.17, with Burnes right behind him at 2.25. Scherzer has a commanding lead in WHIP at a ridiculous 0.82, well ahead of Burnes at 0.91, and his .174 batting average allowed is by far the lowest, with the next closest being Buehler at .195. I’m sure the only goal is to go out and pitch and get the team a win, but it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on both Scherzer and Burnes today.

It seemed like at the deadline the team might not have NEEDED Scherzer, but now I’m wondering where they’d be without him.

In his most recent outing, Gray was tagged with the loss, as he allowed two runs on three hits and one walk over seven innings against the Cardinals. Gray had previously gone eight straight starts without a loss, and even though that was snapped, he’s still gone five straight outings allowing two or fewer runs. Similar to Castillo, he’s been better as of late, and in his last nine starts overall he features a 2.84 ERA, 3.40 FIP, and a 0.87 WHIP. He’s been worse at home, with a 4.65 ERA, 4.52 FIP and a 1.25 WHIP at home, allowing eleven of his total 16 homers in 60.0 innings at home. He’s thrown almost an identical number of innings on the road (60.2), but has a 2.97 ERA, 3.03 FIP, and a 1.12 WHIP, when pitching away from Great American Ball Park. Among 82 starters with at least 120 innings pitched, his 27.8% strikeout rate is 17th, and while not completely dominating in other capacities, he’s still been very solid. He was an All-Star in his first season with the Reds in 2019, and he’s continued his run of form with them, as he now has a 3.32 ERA, 3.48 FIP, and a 1.14 WHIP in 352.0 innings pitched with the Reds. Overall, it’s tough to identify the clear cut best starters in Cincinnati, with Luis Castillo being the most dominant, but having an inconsistent season, Wade Miley and his 3.09 ERA, or Gray and Tyler Mahle, both of whom have very similar numbers.

Either way, Gray has been good and the team will need to wake up to put some runs on the board.

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Cody Bellinger just can’t catch a break. They say this is something manageable and just bothers him while throwing, which may be true, but certainly doesn’t help an already struggling Bellinger.

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Like I mentioned earlier, Dave Roberts is switching up the lineup at the top as Seager has been very consistent, where Muncy hasn’t been as sharp.

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First pitch is at 11:10 AM 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!