The Dodgers (76-33) beat up on the Twins (57-52) last night by a score of 10-3, taking the lead early and scoring in six of their eight offensive innings. They’ve now won nine in a row and 12 of their last 13 games. They hold a 15.5 game lead in the NL West over the San Diego Padres (63-51), and a 4.5 game lead over the New York Mets (73-39) for the best record in baseball. They’re on a 113 win pace, and 117-45 over their last 162 regular season games.
Ryan Pepiot will be on the mound making his fifth career start, as the Dodgers attempt to sweep the season series against the Twins after winning the first three meetings. The right-handed veteran Sonny Gray will be on the mound for Minnesota.
|7:10 PM||Los Angeles|
|2B||Polanco (S)||1B||Freeman (L)|
|CF||Gordon (L)||DH||J. Turner|
|LF||Cave (L)||2B||Lux (L)|
Two key pieces to the Dodgers’ offense seem to be coming around, with Max Muncy adding two more hits last night, a solo home run and a double, while Cody Bellinger added a two run double of his own. Bellinger has a .936 OPS and 152 wRC+ in his last 48 plate appearances and 12 games, while Muncy has a 204 wRC+ and a 1.030 OPS in his last 38 plate appearances and nine games. Small sample sizes, especially for Muncy, but any semblance of life from him is exciting. Will Smith continues his case to remind people he’s the best catcher in baseball with another multi-hit game, upping his wRC+ to 137. He’s now slashed .309/.375/.546 since 6/6 over 232 plate appearances. The offense putting some early runs on the board for Pepiot would make his job much easier.
Here’s how Pepiot and Gray matchup.
Gray allowed a hit and five walks while striking out five in five scoreless innings against the Blue Jays in his last outing. He was pretty generous with the walks, allowing five over five innings, but in total has now walked three or more batters only three times in 16 starts this year. The Blue Jays weren’t able to capitalize against the right-hander, but he might not be as lucky against a team like the Dodgers. The two time All-Star (2015 and 2019) is in the middle of a solid campaign which is no surprise, as he has a career 3.58 ERA and 3.68 FIP over 1346.1 innings. Over his last three starts, he has a 1.13 ERA, 3.30 FIP, and 0.94 WHIP with 17 strikeouts in 16 innings with just two earned runs allowed. He has a true four-pitch mix, throwing either a sinker or four-seamer (two separate pitches of his) both in the low 90’s. His go-to off-speed pitch is his high 70’s curveball that he throws nearly a quarter of the time, with his fourth pitch being a low 80’s slider.
Pepiot was initially expected to start Saturday, but the Dodgers elected to use a four-man rotation over the last few days. This is his first major-league start since early July, and he’ll be the main candidate as a fill-in for Clayton Kershaw (back). Over four big-league starts, Pepiot has posted a 2.76 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 16.1 innings. His most recent MLB start was also his best, going five full innings allowing just one run on four hits and one walk with six strikeouts. After 11 walks in his first three outings and 11.1 innings, allowing just one free pass in five innings was a huge improvement over his three prior starts.
Among qualified starters, his .175 batting average allowed would be the lowest in baseball, ahead of Tony Gonsolin (.177) and Corbin Burnes (.182). His 26.8% strikeout rate would be 12th, just behind Kevin Gausman (28.1%) and Zack Wheeler (27.2%), ahead of the likes of Justin Verlander (25.5%), and Shane Bieber (25.4%). He has 93 strikeouts in 75.1 Triple-A innings this season, good for a 30.8% strikeout rate, so it isn’t an impossible strikeout rate to maintain, he’s just had an issue throwing enough strikes. He’s been a three pitch guy in the majors, throwing his fastball roughly half the time which sits in the mid 90’s, using his elite changeup 30% of the time that sits in the high 80’s, with his last off-speed pitch being a high 80’s slider that he throws 15% of the time.
Hard to not be a Freddie Freeman fan.
First pitch is at 7:10 PM PDT on SNLA.