Cardinals @ Dodgers September 23, 2022: Pujols’ road to 700 stops in LA

Dodger Stadium Sky
Photo by: Cody Bashore

The Dodgers ended their season-series with the Diamondbacks in dramatic fashion, as a Mookie Betts walk-off single gave them their 104th win of the season and 14th win in 19 games against Arizona this season. Tonight, the Dodgers start their last regular-season series against a non-NL West opponent as the NL Central leading Cardinals come to town. At 88-63, the Cardinals sit 7.5 games ahead of the Brewers and have a magic number of five, meaning they could clinch with some wins against the Dodgers and some help from the Reds. The headliner for the Cardinals has been Albert Pujols, who has the third-best wRC+ among hitters with over 100 plate appearance since the All-Star break. His surge has Pujols at 698 homers for his career, and will face lefty starters in two of the three games in LA.

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7:10 PM Los Angeles
SS Edman (S) RF Betts
DH Pujols SS T. Turner
1B Goldschmidt C Smith
3B Arenado DH J. Turner
LF Yepez 3B Muncy (L)
CF Carlson (S) LF Taylor
RF Nootbaar (L) CF Thompson
C Knizner 1B Vargas
2B Donovan (L) 2B Alberto
P Quintana (L) P Heaney (L)

Andrew Heaney makes his 14th start of the season tonight. He’s coming off a four-inning shutout in San Francisco where he only threw 65 pitches, but a short rain delay made it an easy choice for Dave Roberts to pull him early. It was a nice bounceback for Heaney, who had been struggling of late. In five starts prior to last Sunday, Heaney had allowed 16 runs in 29 innings. A lot of that damage came in one start against the Giants (six runs in 5 1/3 innings), but he allowed 11 homers in those five games. He allowed more homers in those five games than Clayton Kershaw or Walker Buehler has this season (in 19 and 12 starts, respectively) and as many as Tony Gonsolin allowed in 23 starts prior to his injury.

Opposing Heaney is Jose Quintana, who I definitely remembered was on the Cardinals. Quintana was a deadline acquisition for the Cardinals and has pitched well in his nine starts in St. Louis. He has a 2.44 ERA/2.80 FIP in 44 innings since the deadline and a 3.16 ERA/3.09 FIP overall this season. He’s coming off easily his best start of the season, as he held the Reds to two hits in eight shutout innings last Saturday. Quintana saw the Dodgers twice as a Pirate this season and had success (like all Pirates did against the Dodgers). He shut the Dodgers out over six innings when the teams met in Pittsburgh and allowed two runs in 4 1/3 innings in LA. The 11-year vet has always found success against the Dodgers, as his 2.02 ERA against LA is his lowest against any team over his career.

Quintana has used a pretty even four-pitch mix this season. He’s thrown a four-seamer 36.3 percent of the time, curve 27.5 percent of the time, changeup 20 percent of the time and sinker 16.2 percent of the time.

Freddie Freeman sits for the second time this season, as Miguel Vargas gets the start at second. Max Muncy is the only lefty in the Dodger lineup, with Trayce Thompson starting in center and Hanser Alberto starting at second. Pujols bats second for the Cardinals.

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This was reported yesterday, but the team made it official today.

Daniel Hudson will be back on a one-year deal next season with a team option for the 2024 season. Hudson was a key piece of the bullpen this season before he tore an ACL fielding a grounder in June. He’s reportedly aiming to be ready for Opening Day.

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Some big news out of the bullpen.

Craig Kimbrel is no longer the closer. Kimbrel gave up the go-ahead run last night (setting the stage up for Mookie’s walk-off, a true team player) and today it was announced that Kimbrel will no longer be the ninth-inning arm. He’ll pitch in different spots and the Dodgers will work the matchups in the ninth inning (we all enjoy this until Clayton Kershaw comes in for a save in the NLCS on 0 days rest).

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Gonsolin is set up for his next step toward a return.

Gonsolin will get two innings in OKC in his first rehab start since hitting the IL following his start on August 23.

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Originally, Pujols was going to have three looks against a lefty. However, the Dodgers adjusted their rotation a bit.

Tyler Anderson was slated to start Sunday, but he’s been pushed back and Michael Grove will start Sunday instead.

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First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM PT and will be shown exclusively on Apple TV+. I’m a Dodger fan first and fan of chaos second, so it would be absolutely hilarious to me if Pujols hits 700 and Aaron Judge hits 61 (and 62) tonight with both games airing exclusively on Apple.

About Alex Campos

I've been writing about the Dodgers since I graduated from Long Beach State, where I covered the Dirtbags in my senior year. I'm either very good or very bad at puns.