The Dodgers holding a 11.5-game lead in the NL West, a five-game lead in the National League and a two-game lead for the best record in the league may all be more important in the big picture of the season, but the opportunity to sweep another four-game series against the Giants is pretty entertaining even if it comes with San Francisco pretty far out of contention for the division title.
Having swept the four-game set back on July 21 to 24 in Los Angeles, the Dodgers (71-33) now have the opportunity for a four-game sweep in San Francisco (51-54) before the teams part ways for the next month. Leading the season series 9-3, a win would clinch the season victory and be one step closer to the franchise record of 10 consecutive wins (at least I’m pretty sure that’s the record) against the Giants set back in 1953.
Also, with a league-best 36-18 record on the road this season, the Dodgers can continue to hold a place within the top 25 all-time road records. Right now, it would be the best win percentage on the road in a season since the team was back in Brooklyn as I’m not really going to count the 30 games on the road back in 2020.
|12:45 PM||San Francisco|
|1B||Freeman (L)||RF||Yastrzemski (L)|
|CF||Bellinger (L)||CF||Johnson (S)|
|P||Kershaw (L)||P||Junis (R)|
This might be an unnecessary shot, but I have to be honest I don’t know who some of these guys are starting for San Francisco. So I took a look and the bottom six guys in the order combine for 248 PAs as Giants, with Yermin Mercedes (66 PAs), J.D. Davis (4 PAs), David Villar (77 PAs), Austin Wynns (85 PAs), Bryce Johnson (2 PAs) and Dixon Machado (14 PAs) not exactly a familiar group for Dodger fans.
On the other side, the Dodgers have stacked plenty of lefties against Jakob Junis, which you will see why below. Joey Gallo gets to make his Dodgers debut with Will Smith catching Clayton Kershaw today after getting yesterday off and serving as the DH back on Tuesday.
Kershaw gets the start against the Giants for the third time this season as he looks to get past the 5th inning this go-around.
Lasting 4 innings on June 11, his first start off the IL, Kershaw allowed two runs on three hits and two walks while striking out four. Just a few weeks ago on July 24, Kershaw went 4 1/3 innings with four runs allowed on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
In that first start off the IL, Kershaw went slightly heavier on his fastball usage with the 46.5% the second-highest of the season and above his season average of 38% this season.
At age 34, Kershaw’s FIP of 2.60 and his OPS allowed are still the sixth-best of his career behind three Cy Young seasons and ahead of 2012 when he finished second in the Cy Young voting. Obviously things within the league have changed a bit over his career, with his HR/FB rate unsurprisingly the best it has been since 2016, but it’s still impressive nonetheless.
Facing Kershaw will be Junis who is in his first season with the Giants after five with the Royals. Throwing 5 innings against the Dodgers on June 10, Junis beat Los Angeles with two runs allowed on five hits and a walk. Impressively, Junis has managed a reasonably successful season while his Baseball Savant page looks like this:
Using his slider 51.9%, Junis mixes in a sinker (28.7%) and changeup (16.2%) to all batters. The slider goes up a bit with the change down to righties and the slider down and the change up to lefties. There’s not too significant of a split this season, but lefties do put up a slightly better slugging (.444) and average (.242). Righties nearly match up on-base percentage (.269 to .272) thanks to a higher walk rate. For the most part, those numbers are backed up by Junis’ career totals as well.
How do the Dodgers do against those pitches? Well among batters with at least 50 PAs, Will Smith leads the league with a 4.7 RV/100 against sinkers, with Freddie Freeman ninth with a 2.8 RV/100 and Gavin Lux 17th with 2.2 RV/100. Freeman is also tied for 10th against sliders at 2.8 RV/100 and third against changeups at 5.0 RV/100. Trea Turner (3.3 RV/100, T-8th) has also hit changeups well while Mookie Betts (5.6 RV/100) and Max Muncy (2.9 RV/100) ranks in the top 40 if you drop the minimum PAs to 25 since they both just miss 50 at 44 and 47 respectively.
It would seem like Freeman would be in for a pretty strong day, so let’s see if I can jinx that.
Here’s how the two starters match up this season.
|2022||Kershaw (81 1/3 innings)||Junis (58 1/3 innings)|
|ERA||2.66 (19th)||2.78 (23rd)|
|FIP||2.60 (8th)||3.75 (T-67th)|
|K%||26.2% (26th)||20.6% (T-97th)|
|BB%||4.4% (8th)||5.2% (T-28th)|
|BAA||.218 (T-138th)||.224 (T-165th)|
|wOBA||.256 (T-56th)||.281 (T-140th)|
|Hard Hit%||33.5% (93rd)||40.9% (T-342nd)|
The early first pitch means there’s less news to share in general and I have to schedule this further ahead than I normally would, but offering this up from last night because everyone needs to see it.
Dustin must be so proud.
First pitch is at 12:45 PM PDT on SportsNet LA.