Astros @ Dodgers September 12, 2020: Dodgers host cheaters in two-game nationally televised series

The Dodgers (32-13) host the Astros (22-23) at Dodger Stadium for the first time since Houston was exposed as cheaters in the 2017 World Series. The two rival teams met up in the second week of the season when the Dodgers flexed on the trash can bangers, sweeping the two-game set at Minute Maid Park. Hopefully, the fake crowd sounds on the FOX broadcast will include a loud chorus of boos for the Astros.

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5:07 P.M. Los Angeles
CF Springer RF Betts
3B Bregman SS Seager
LF Brantley LF Pollock
1B Gurriel 3B Muncy
DH Tucker C Smith
SS Correa 1B Bellinger
2B Diaz CF Taylor
RF Reddick 2B Hernandez
C Maldonado DH Lux
P Valdez (L) P Urias (L)

The last time these two clubs met, there was no shortage of drama. Joe Kelly threw the ball near Alex Bregman‘s head, and the tempers flared on both sides. Kelly, who didn’t even hit anyone, was suspended. Kelly’s pouty face toward the Astros was forever cemented into Dodgers lore.

In case you missed it, there’s even a mural commemorating the iconic moment. Kelly visited it himself.

There was a group of Dodgers fans waiting for the Astros with trash cans and trolling signs outside of Dodger Stadium.

The animosity between the two teams is palpable, but the last thing I want to see is a player get injured when the postseason is around the corner. The Astros are 6 1/2 games behind the Oakland A’s in the AL West, looking to make it to the playoffs despite being under .500. With more on the line, the Astros don’t want to risk losing players in a brawl. They’re already playing without Jose Altuve who is on the injured list with a knee sprain.

The Dodgers’ rotation is already thin. Dustin May injured his foot on a line drive in Thursday’s game and had to come out early. Walker Buehler is battling a blister.

Julio Urias is pitching for a postseason spot. Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler sans blister will be in the rotation with two slots open for Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin or Urias. Andrew Friedman didn’t get a veteran starter at the deadline and has put his confidence in the young pitching talent they already have. The Dodgers even traded away Ross Stripling to the Toronto Blue Jays for a pair of prospects, Friedman doubling down on the arms he has.

Urias (3-0, 3.86 ERA, 1.313 WHIP) hasn’t found consistency this season. Last time out, the young lefty allowed four runs on five hits in 4.1 innings. He also allowed four runs in his last start of August in San Francisco. His ERA has been north of 4 the last two months. Hitters have an OPS of .817 when they get ahead of Urias in the count.

He’s struggled in the first three innings this season, allowing all five of his home runs this year in the first third of the game. His strikeout rate is down 3.9% from last year partly due to his inconsistent command and breaking balls.

The Dodgers face lefty Framber Valdez (3-3, 3.61 ERA) for the second time this season. He allowed three runs on four hits over 4.1 innings back on July 28 in Houston. The Dodgers won 5-2.

Pedro Baez was activated from the IL after missing 19 games with a groin strain. Dennis Santana was optioned.

Sunday will be a bullpen day.

With bad air quality due to the California wildfires, pre-game activities were skipped. Let’s hope the only thing that gets smoked at Chavez Ravine today is the Astros.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.