Dodgers @ Padres April 24, 2022: Kershaw looks to set franchise strikeout record in San Diego

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Thanks to Dustin mentioning it in the game thread for Clayton Kershaw‘s season debut back in Minnesota, I was reminded there’s a chance at history this afternoon in San Diego.

After 13 strikeouts against the Twins and another 7 against the Braves, Kershaw sits at 2,690 career Ks, all of course with the Dodgers. Don Sutton‘s franchise record of 2,696 for the Dodgers includes his 2,652 between 1966 and 1980, with another 44 coming in 1988 after pitching for Houston, Milwaukee, Oakland and California for seven years. With at least 7 strikeouts in each of his first two starts this season, and in 12 of 22 starts last year (including all 3 against the Padres), it seems pretty reasonable to think it could happen today.

Kershaw’s second outing this season didn’t go quite as well as the first, though that would have been pretty hard to do, as he allowed home runs to Guillermo Heredia and Ozzie Albies. Finishing with four earned runs, Kershaw left after 5+ innings with just the two runs allowed but two men on that crossed the plate against Brusdar Graterol.

In last season’s three games against San Diego, Kershaw combined for 22 strikeouts in 19 innings with 11 hits and 5 walks allowed. After shutting out the Padres in his first appearance on April17, 2021, Kershaw’s six runs allowed in the last two meetings all came off of home runs. On April 23, it was Will Myers and and two for Fernando Tatis Jr. with Jake Cronenworth and Ha-Seong Kim accounting for the two in June. Both homers came off of Kershaw’s fastball, with a double by Matt Olson also coming off the pitch. Meanwhile, batters have just two singles in 24 at-bats against Kershaw’s slider to 16 strikeouts.

For the Padres, it will be Sean Manaea in his fourth start since being traded from Oakland on April 3. Striking out 19 across 19 innings, Manaea has allowed just 3 runs on 10 hits and 5 walks.

Primarily using a sinker, sitting at a floor of 54.3% in 2020, Manaea now compliments it with a change and curve based on Baseball Savant’s data. After jumping up to an average of 92.1 mph in 2021, it’s been back down to 90.7 through 150 pitches this season. That’s much more in line with where it had been since 2018, with seasons of 90.4 mph, 89.8 mph and 90.4 mph before the jump last year.

It’s an incredibly small sample size, but Manaea’s BABIP is down at .196 in his three games this season and his HR/FB% is down at 5.3% from last season’s 13.8% and his career mark of 12.4%. Granted, that’s the case for much of the league

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As for today’s starting lineups, Austin Barnes is in to catch Kershaw after Will Smith played last night. Max Muncy takes over at 3rd for the day with Justin Turner at DH for the seventh time in 15 games this season. Hanser Alberto is at second for Gavin Lux with the lefty Manaea on the mound for his third start with the Dodgers.

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1:10 PM San Diego
RF Betts DH Nola
1B Freeman (L) 2B Cronenworth (L)
SS T. Turner 3B Machado
DH J. Turner LF Profar (S)
3B Muncy (L) 1B Hosmer (L)
LF Taylor RF Myers
CF Bellinger (L) C Alfaro
2B Alberto CF Grisham (L)
C Barnes SS Kim
P Kershaw (L) P Manaea (L)

As for the roster, non-roster invitee Reyes Moronta has a locker in San Diego but no move has been announced yet.

The right-hander has appeared in six games for Oklahoma City, throwing 6 innings with 10 strikeouts to 4 walks and 6 hits. Moronta pitched in four games for the Giants in 2021 after appearing in 56 in 2019 and 69 in 2018.

Moronta isn’t on the 40-man roster, but yesterday’s news of Darien Núñez needing Tommy John surgery makes that a pretty easy move.

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First pitch from Petco Park is scheduled for 1:10 PM PDT on Sportsnet LA.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.