With what feels like an unprecedented feat, last night the Dodgers (45-26) came from behind in the ninth inning against Kenley Jansen to tie the game, and eventually beat the Braves (42-32), netting their first extra innings win of the season. Atlanta has been red hot, and taking two of three in Atlanta is a very solid result, especially going into a series against a weak Colorado team. With losses by both the Giants (39-33) and the Padres (45-30), their lead in the NL West is now two games. It doesn’t matter much at this point, but it’s always nice to be in first.
The Dodgers are 1-2 against the Rockies (31-42) this season, playing them last in the season opener. They were 13-6 against Colorado last year, so it’d be nice for the team to start pushing in that direction. Tyler Anderson will be on the mound for the Dodgers, up against the right-handed Chad Kuhl.
|P||Anderson (L)||P||Kuhl (R)|
The Dodgers will run out their standard lineup against the right-handed Kuhl, with Max Muncy still hitting cleanup, Cody Bellinger batting sixth and Gavin Lux eighth. Here’s how these two offenses compare.
For Colorado, Kris Bryant will be back in the Rockies’ lineup for the first time since 5/22, playing in just his 18th game with his new team. This year they’re led by C.J. Cron with a 131 wRC+ and .890 OPS, while old friend Connor Joe is having a solid season, with a 109 wRC+ and .774 OPS. After those two it’s a steep drop off in production, with the rest of their lineup going through some tough times. Bryant should rebound and be an above-average player as he has been his entire career, but that leaves six spots in the lineup and not a ton of productive players. Jose Iglesias has a 91 wRC+, Ryan McMahon is at 90, Brendan Rodgers is at 83, and Randal Grichuk is at 74. Yonathan Daza has been a pleasant surprise for them, and despite having no home runs on the year, is slashing .316/.368/.374, for a 99 wRC+.
As always, the Rockies have some inflated numbers due to playing half their games at Coors field. Their batting average of .259 overall features a .238 batting average on the road, just the 17th highest, while their .635 road OPS is 27th, and their 21.9% strikeout rate is 15th. They hit .279 at home with a .799 OPS, both the highest marks in baseball, and due to pitch movement, own just a 19.9% strikeout rate at home, the fifth lowest.
The top three in the Dodgers’ lineup have had a really solid June, with Trea Turner leading the way with a .965 OPS and 165 wRC+ in the month, hitting .355. Will Smith is really finding his form and getting a bit of luck that he’s been lacking thus far, with a 162 wRC+ and .942 OPS in June, while Freddie Freeman has been his normal self with an .893 OPS and 151 wRC+. Gavin Lux has also had a good month, with an .860 OPS and 143 wRC+ in June.
For Smith, over his last 38 games and 165 plate appearances dating back to 5/12, he’s slashing .276/.352/.510, for a 140 wRC+ and .862 OPS. Over his last 19 games and 84 PA, thats up to .329/.357/.620, a 171 wRC+ and .977 OPS. His Statcast information shows that obviously he was going to breakout soon.
His Expected Weighted On-base Average (xwOBA) is 15th in baseball, while his Expected Slugging% of .597 is 12th, with a huge discrepancy between his expected slugging and his actual slugging (.463). Eventually it’ll all even out like it has been, and he’ll return to being the best catcher in baseball.
Here’s how Anderson and Kuhl matchup against 77 pitchers with at least 68 innings pitched.
Kuhl allowed four earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three across five innings his last time out against the Marlins. He had four scoreless innings, but allowed all four runs in one inning. He started the season well, but has now allowed four or more earned runs in half of his previous eight outings. Regardless, his 3.95 ERA has been very solid for Colorado in 2022. He’s really struggled against opposite handed batters, with lefties hitting .246/.342/.449 against him, with a 13% walk rate and just a 16.3% strikeout rate.
Kuhl is primarily sinker (40%), slider (37%), mixing in a high-spin curveball 11% of the time and the rare changeup 8% of the time. His sinker sits in the low to mid-90’s, the slider in the mid 80’s, the curve in the high 70’s, and the change in the high 80’s. His sinker hardly gets any whiffs, and it really gets hit hard, with an xwOBA of .455 against it, just under that of Aaron Judge (.462) and above Mike Trout (.436). Basically, the sinker produces results like that of an MVP caliber player, while the slider produces results only matched by players like Sheldon Neuse (.270 xwOBA).
Of all pitchers in baseball, his slider is ranked as eighth most valuable pitch, just behind Tony Gonsolin‘s splitter, and Corbin Burnes‘ cutter. Meanwhile his sinker has been the 22nd worst pitch in baseball. Seems like Kuhl could be the kind of guy a very smart team targets and figures out how to utilize best. Kinda like the Dodgers and Tyler Anderson, taking advantage of his excellent changeup.
Speaking of Anderson, he gave up three earned runs on five hits and one walk in his last outing against the Reds. He was tagged for three runs in the second, but he did enough to provide the offense enough time to build a lead, holding on to his perfect 8-0 record. In regards to his arsenal, his changeup has been the 11th most valuable pitch in baseball. That’s been the key to his 3.00 ERA, 3.29 FIP, and excellent 0.97 WHIP. You could say he has a 4.41 ERA over his last three outings, or you could say he’s had two mediocre outings with a near no-hitter sandwiched between. He’s been equally effective against both left and right-handed batters this year, and he seems to be the most likely starter to go deep into games at this point. The bullpen has been taxed as of late, and could really use a long start from Anderson and a big outing from the offense.
Freeman is your National League Player of the Week.
First pitch is at 5:40 PM PDT on SNLA.