Dodgers @ Rockies June 28, 2022: Kershaw on the mound as the team hopes to avoid series loss

Photo: Daniel Brim

Writing the intro to a Game Thread after a bad loss is easy, because I can usually just paste the opening line from Chad’s recap from the previous night. For example, “After a 5-1 start to their road trip and back-to-back series wins, the Dodgers started their series at Coors Field by seemingly just taking the day off in a 4-0 loss to the Rockies. I’m not usually one to question effort or preparedness since it’s hard for fans to know, but man they looked like they were checked out today.

Anyways, it’ll be difficult to do worse than yesterday. Today features a matchup between Clayton Kershaw and the 29 year-old lefty, Kyle Freeland.

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5:40 PM Denver
SS T. Turner DH Joe
1B Freeman (L) RF Blackmon (L)
3B J. Turner DH Bryant
CF Taylor 1B Cron
DH Muncy (L) 2B Rodgers
2B Alberto SS Iglesias
RF Thompson CF Grichuk
LF Lux (L) C Diaz
C Barnes 3B Montero
P Kershaw (L) P Freeland (L)

I’ll be honest, I don’t like this lineup. After a hard fought series in Atlanta, a flight directly after to Denver, and a high altitude game the next day against the right-handed Chad Kuhl who had been struggling as of late, if you wanted to put out a “B” lineup in that game, sure that makes sense. However after a bad loss with no production outside of Gavin Lux, Justin Turner is hitting third (79 wRC+ on the year, 45 wRC+ since 6/5), Max Muncy (82 wRC+) is hitting fifth, Hanser Alberto (55 wRC+ and 38 wRC+ since 5/10) sixth, with Gavin Lux hitting eighth, also behind Trayce Thompson. Austin Barnes will be catching Kershaw which is whatever, Will Smith needs a day off so that’s fine.

Lux has a 117 wRC+ on the year, slashing .292/.362/.392. He has an .892 OPS in June, slashing .347/.392/.500, for a 152 wRC+. His .362 OBP is second on the team behind just Freddie Freeman (.388). He’s currently the fourth best batter on the team, (fifth if you count the injured Mookie Betts), and despite lacking power, should likely be hitting fourth behind Will Smith in the lineup. You want your best players getting the most plate appearances in the most important situations, and moving him up in the lineup is the only logical thing to do. Justin Turner and Muncy, as important as they are to the team, have no business in the middle of the order right now. Muncy’s ability to get on base despite the low batting average can be beneficial at the bottom of the order, to put runners on the bases for the top of the lineup.

Simply put, Lux is one of the best batters on the team and he needs to bat higher in the order. He has a similar wRC+ to players such as Bryan Reynolds (bats second), Francisco Lindor (bats third), Ketel Marte (bats third), and Jake Cronenworth (bats second). Lux shouldn’t bat second or third with the caliber of players above him in the lineup, but the idea remains the same that he has no business at the bottom of the lineup. Anyways, end of that rant.

For Colorado, they actually are an above average offense against left-handed pitching, with their 113 wRC+ sitting ninth in baseball, while the Dodgers are 15th at 105. Good thing the Dodgers’ three starters this series are all lefties in Anderson, Kershaw, and Julio Urias tomorrow.

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Here’s how the two lefties matchup among 72 starters with at least 70 innings pitched. Kershaw obviously doesn’t fit these parameters but he’s had a great 45 innings to start his year.

Freeland allowed two earned runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out five across seven innings Thursday against the Marlins. He allowed two earned runs through the first three innings but settled in from there to deliver his third quality start in his last four outings. His five strikeouts were his highest mark in his last four starts, and he managed 14 swinging strikes across 107 total pitches. Nothing insane, but for a guy who doesn’t miss many bats, it’s noteworthy. He’s had a good June, and with a 3.00 ERA this month, he’s lowered his ERA to 4.29, despite just 53 strikeouts and 23 walks in 79.2 innings. However, in those fours starts and 27.0 innings this month, he has just eleven strikeouts and an incredibly low 10.1% strikeout rate. He’s a true five pitch pitcher, throwing his fastball (90.3 MPH) a quarter of the time, his slider (85.4 MPH) just as frequently, equally mixing in a sinker, low 80’s curveball, and mid 80’s changeup after that.

He had one of his worst starts of the year in the season opening series against the Dodgers, going 3.2 innings while allowing five earned runs on five hits and two walks. It’ll be interesting to see how he does against the Dodgers this time, as they should be able to hit him, but they also should’ve been able to hit Chad Kuhl. Here’s how his Statcast data looks, and it’s not very pretty, but he’s been serviceable for Colorado.

Meanwhile, Kershaw allowed one earned run on seven hits and one walk while striking out seven across six innings to earn the win last Thursday against the Reds. He allowed his only run in the fourth inning, when he allowed the first three batters he faced to reach base. He was dominant otherwise and worked efficiently, needing only 80 pitches to record his 18 outs. This was also Kershaw’s longest start since being activated from the injured list June 11, and he’s given up only four earned runs across 15 innings in three starts since. He was a little unlucky with one hit being a grounder to Justin Turner who made a nice play, only to throw wide to first resulting in a “hit” for Tommy Pham that eventually turned into a run. Brandon Drury also doubled on a pop up between first base and right field that Betts would catch, that interim right fielder Chris Taylor missed.

Kershaw has been exceptional as usual through his first eight starts, and his Statcast data shows that he’s still got it.

Not too shabby.

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Zach McKinstry will go on the IL while Jake Lamb is called up. Lamb has a 131 wRC+ in AAA this season, with a .932 OPS and 15 home runs in just 61 games.

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I disagree, but I’m not a MLB Manager. I think you can “see life” lower in the order, and have good plate appearances in less crucial situations.

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Progress is good.

Hopefully Andrew Heaney gets enough rest, no point in going on the IL for fifteen days after every start.

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First pitch is at 5:40 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!