D-backs @ Dodgers September 13, 2021: Kershaw returns as Dodgers open series against Arizona

Clayton Kershaw (Photo: Cody Bashore)

It wasn’t a surprise that Sunday’s finale against the Padres was eventful. Max Scherzer entered the game needing six strikeouts to reach 3,000 for his career. He one-upped himself by taking a perfect game into the eighth inning, and the Dodgers scored eight runs against an already-injured Padre pitching staff that lost Blake Snell in the first inning. Things were normal this weekend, as the Dodgers swept the Padres and still failed to make up any ground in the division as the Giants swept the Cubs. Football wasn’t quite an escape from this stupid NL West (shout-out the NFC West, where every team is 1-0 and three of the four teams won by double-digits. Why can’t anything be easy for me). Tonight, the Dodgers start a three-game set against an Arizona team that is somehow 18.5 games behind the Rockies for fourth place in the NL West. Obviously rooting for a Giants loss tonight, but a Giant win+Dodger win would mean the Diamondbacks win total on the season (47) would match the number of games they are out of first place. Arizona is hot right now, as they’ve won two in a row (choosing to ignore the six-game losing streak that preceded that and their 3-11 stretch in the last 14).

7:10 P.M. Los Angeles
SS Ahmed RF Betts
CF Marte (S) 1B Muncy (L)
C Kelly 2B T. Turner
1B Walker SS Seager (L)
3B Rojas (L) 3B J. Turner
LF Ramos (S) CF Bellinger (L)
2B Young LF Lux (L)
RF McCarthy (L) C Barnes
P Gallen (R) P Kershaw (L)

For the first time since July 3, Clayton Kershaw takes the ball for the Dodgers. Kershaw missed more than two months with soreness in his elbow (and trying to return from it too quickly). He made a rehab start last Tuesday at OKC and threw 46 pitches, so he doesn’t figure to go too deep into this start. With only 18 games left in the regular season, Kershaw probably has three starts to build up his length before the postseason. Kershaw had been good before injury, posting a 3.39 ERA/2.98 FIP in 18 starts. Kershaw made one start against the Diamondbacks this season, allowing two runs in six innings on May 19. He struck out eight and walked one in that game, and on the year has 127 strikeouts and only 19 walks. Kershaw obviously doesn’t have enough innings to qualify as a starter, but his K%/BB% is the sixth-best among pitchers with 100 or more innings pitched.

Zac Gallen will make his 20th start of the season and will likely surpass 100 innings for the first time in his three-year career. The Diamondbacks have only won four of Gallen’s 19 starts but he hasn’t been awful with a 4.32 ERA/4.23 FIP. Gallen is coming off consecutive quality starts, allowing three earned runs in each of his last two games. Last time out he allowed three in 6 2/3 against Texas. The Diamondbacks only average 3.59 runs per game in Gallen’s starts (they might not be a great team idk). Gallen pitched well in his lone start against the Dodgers this season. He allowed two runs and five hits in six innings and struck out eight in one of Arizona’s four wins when Gallen pitches.

Gallen has a five-pitch mix, but throws a four-seamer 52.7 percent of the time. He mixed in a slider, curve, change and cutter and Baseball Savant has six cutters tracked. Despite only throwing his slider 9.8 percent of the time, six of the 15 homers he’s allowed this season have come off it.

The thing I forgot about Kershaw coming back was that it would mean more Austin Barnes. He starts and hits eighth tonight.


Chris Taylor is out yet again.

Wednesday will be the fifth day of Taylor’s absence, as the Dodgers remain committed to the bit of playing shorthanded instead of IL’ing players. Less costly with expanded rosters, but Gavin Lux starts again in left.

Speaking of injured left fielders.

AJ Pollock‘s injury seems to be less severe than previously anticipated. He could go on a short rehab assignment soon.


The Dodgers play the Reds this weekend, which could help the Padres in the Wild Card hunt. The Dodgers will keep their rotation on track.

Walker Buehler, Scherzer and Kershaw will start the three games in Cincinnati. The Dodgers won’t adjust their rotation to avoid giving the Reds a potential look at their Wild Card starter.


First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM PDT and will be shown on Sportsnet LA.

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.