Dodgers @ Royals August 13, 2022: Looking for 12 straight wins and another series victory

Now 78-33, on a 113/114-win pace, the Dodgers have a shot to become just the seventh team in MLB history to break the 110-win mark in a single season. At the least, the franchise record of 106 wins in 2019 and 2021 is comfortably within range of being broken as their .703 win percentage would be the best in franchise history if you exclude the 60-game 2020 season.

That record has the Dodgers up 16 games on the Padres with 51 games left, six up on the Mets in the NL, 16.5 up on the Cardinals to secure a top two spot to bypass the Wild Card round and 6.5 games up on the AL-leading Astros.

During the win streak at 11 games, the Dodgers have scored less than seven runs in only three of the games and allowed more than three just twice. That’s an average score of 6.6 to 2.5 during the stretch.

Saturday’s second game in Kansas City is sets up the RoyalsBrad Keller against Andrew Heaney, in his seventh start of the season and third in the month of August.

Image Image
4:10 PM Kansas City
RF Betts LF Melendez (L)
SS T. Turner SS Witt
1B Freeman (L) C Perez
C Smith 3B Dozier
3B Muncy (L) CF Taylor
DH J. Turner 1B Pratto (L)
2B Lux (L) DH Rooker
LF Gallo (L) 2B Massey (L)
CF Bellinger (L) RF Eaton
P Heaney (L) P Keller (R)

Both teams will be in throwback uniforms tonight, as the game is celebrating Kansas City’s connection to Jackie Robinson as he played for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1945 before eventually debuting in MLB with the Dodgers. While the Royals will wear 1945 Monarchs uniforms, the Dodgers will be in 1955 Brooklyn Dodger uniforms.

The jerseys, hats, batting helmets and other game-worn items will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which the Dodgers visited today.

As for the Dodgers’ lineup, it’s Gavin Lux, Joey Gallo and Cody Bellinger in while Chris Taylor, Hanser Alberto and Trayce Thompson are out. After I sort of mocked Gallo being in the lineup a few days ago, he went 1-for-4 on Tuesday with a double and hit the three-run homer against the Twins on Wednesday. He gets another start today against the right-handed Keller.

Pulled from Wednesday night’s game with a right hand injury, Max Muncy started as the DH last night and is in the lineup at third base today. That puts Justin Turner at DH, who is 3-for-12 with a pair of doubles since returning from the IL.

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Coming off a 4 2/3 inning outing against the Padres, Heaney reached 81 pitches on Aug. 6, his second most of the season behind just his second start in April that preceded his extended stay on the IL.

Allowed three unearned runs on four hits and one walk, Heaney struck out three before leaving the game. The error by Lux in the 5th inning only forced Heaney to throw about eight more pitches to close out the inning, with three runs crossing in the process on two of the four total hits he allowed.

Heaney’s four-seam usage picked up just a bit in that start against the Padres, back up to 69.1 percent.

His fastball velocity also continued to trend back up, now at 92.2 mph on average this season and at a career-high 93.0 mph in that last start against San Diego. During his career, Heaney’s topped out on average around 93.7 mph with his sinker hitting the mark during games in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Heaney’s two pitches have him with a pretty even split this season, with right-handed batters (.256 wOBA) just slightly ahead of lefties (.229 wOBA). Left-handed batters have just one extra-base hit off Heaney in 30 PAs this season to 10 strikeouts. Impressively, right-handed batters have a lower batting average (.171 to .185), but have a homer and seven doubles among their 13 hits.

On the other side, Keller and his 4.45 ERA/4.35 FIP/4.34 xFIP face the Dodgers with a similar pitch repertoire.

Primarily slider (42.5%) to right-handed batters, Keller mixes in a sinker (31.5%) and a four-seamer (25.1%). The three pitches haven’t produced too well, with none of them holding batters under a .345 slugging percentage or a .349 xSLG. With batters slashing .273/.326/.402/.318 w OBA, Keller has a 15.0 K% and a 7.3 BB%

For left-handed batters, it’s 46.1% four-seamers, 28.4% sliders, 16.1% sinkers and 9.3% of a change-up, which Keller hardly ever uses when he’s behind in the count. Allowing lefties a line of .242/.321/.398/.315 wOBA with a 16.5 K% and a 10.1 BB%, Keller’s xSLG on all four pitches is over .356 with only the change under .352 in slugging at .308.

As you can see, that doesn’t equate to much. The Dodgers’ lefties in the lineup in Gallo, Muncy, Lux and Bellinger are all below average against four-seamers, with Freddie Freeman the exception though he’s at just 1.0 RV/100 this season against the pitch. As for the slider, Freeman’s 2.4 RV/100 still leads the team but the right-handed batters atop the order in Mookie Betts, Will Smith and Trea Turner haven’t had a ton of success against the pitch this season.

Keller’s average velocity on the four-seamer is at 94.2 mph, leaving him pretty much right in the middle of the league while its horizontal movement is -9.1 inches vs. average that tops the list on Baseball Savant. Meanwhile, the slider 4.5 inches of vertical break vs. the average is 26th in the league.

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Doesn’t seem like there’s much news to share today other than Tony Wolters will make an appearance for the Dodgers. He has slashed .216/.311/.270/.580 for Triple-A OKC this season.

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First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. PT 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.