Diamondbacks @ Dodgers March 31, 2023: The pursuit of 162-0 continues with Dustin May on the mound

Following an 8-2 victory over the Diamondbacks in yesterday’s Opening Day, the Dodgers’ fourth win in the past five season openers, the dream of the 162-0 season remains alive.

A 6-strikeout, 6-inning outing by Julio Urias was followed up by a trio of shutout innings from Phil Bickford, Shelby Miller and Yency Almonte (needing just 35 pitches combined), while the offense chased Zac Gallen in the fifth inning. Will Smith led the way with a 3-hit, 4-RBI game while Freddie Freeman, David Peralta, James Outman and Miguel Rojas all came up with two hits apiece.

While the win was great, it was not purely all good, as Max Muncy did strikeout in all five at-bats while Mookie Betts added three, accounting for eight of the team’s 12 strikeouts last night.

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7:10 PM Los Angeles
3B Rojas (L) RF Betts
2B Marte (S) 1B Freeman (L)
DH Gurriel Jr. C Smith
1B Walker 3B Muncy (L)
LF Carroll (L) DH Martinez
C Moreno LF Peralta (L)
RF McCarthy (L) 2B Vargas
CF Thomas (L) CF Outman (L)
SS Perdomo (S) SS Rojas
P Kelly (R) P May (R)

The Dodgers’ new look lineup, one that included five different players (J.D. Martinez, Peralta, Miguel Vargas, Outman and Rojas) compared to last year’s Opening Day order, is right back out there again for Game No. 2 of the 2023 season.

Of course, that makes sense as another right-hander is on the mound for Arizona. Dave Roberts said earlier this week that Trayce Thompson and Chris Taylor would get the “brunt” of the outfield at-bats against left-handed pitchers while Outman, Peralta and Jason Heyward would combine for much of the time against right-handed pitchers. And I think much of the fan base would riot if Heyward took significant time away from Outman this early in the season.

For the D-backs, Josh Rojas replaces Evan Longoria at third base, Alek Thomas replaces Kyle Lewis in the lineup with some other defensive moves and Geraldo Perdomo takes over at short for Nick Ahmed as they face a right-handed starter tonight.


The good news for Muncy is the D-backs have Merrill Kelly on the mound today. In his career, Muncy’s line against Kelly is .423/.483/.654/.1.137 in 26 at-bats with four strikeouts to three walks. It’s good news for Betts as well, with his .304/.385/.739/1.124 line and three home runs in 23 at-bats with just two strikeouts to three walks. Freeman (.375/.500/.813/.1313) and Smith (.318/.360/.500/.860) in 16 and 22 at-bats also have an impressive history against Kelly.

Kelly has allowed the Dodgers to hit .307/.364/.532/.896 in his 12 games against them, his worst OPS allowed to a NL West team or anyone he’s appeared in multiple games against. Five of those games came last season, which amazingly accounted for five losses in his 13-8 record. The best result for Kelly was allowing three runs across 5 innings while striking out eight in September with the worst coming in May with eight runs allowed in just 2 innings.

Kelly’s spring included just two appearances with a 3.86 ERA in 7 innings as he was in the World Baseball Classic with the United States, where he threw 4 1/3 innings and allowed a 8.31 ERA including a pair of runs allowed to Japan in the WBC final where he lasted just 1 1/3 innings. 

The right-handed Kelly was predictably much more effective against right-handed batters last season, with a 2.91 FIP and 3.28 xFIP compared to a 4.61 and 4.60 respectively to lefties. That includes a BB% that nearly doubles from righties to lefties (5.3% to 10.2%). Kelly’s five pitches ranged from 29.2% to 13.5% overall in usage last season, with the four-seamer, sinker, cutter, changeup and curveball all used consistently to right-handed batters last year with the sinker being dropped in usage against lefties while the four-seamer and change make up a combined 57.4% combined. Kelly mentioned during the offseason a desire to incorporate a slider, which Baseball Savant registered six times last season to righties.


As for the Dodgers, Dustin May takes the mound with the team looking to split up the left-handed starters. Returning from Tommy John last August, May faced the D-backs once in 2022 and allowed five runs and seven hits in 4 innings of work. That was just his third career appearance against Arizona, with one coming in 2019 that was just 1/3 of an inning in relief as he allowed three runs on four hits before being hit in the head by a comebacker and the other in 2020 when he lasted just 1 inning in a start before leaving with a foot injury thanks to another comebacker. So that’s all to say the 1.017 OPS the D-backs have in 32 PAs against May has come with some weird circumstances.

May appeared in four games during the Spring, striking out 20 in 18 1/3 innings while walking seven and allowing seven runs (six earned) for a 2.95 ERA. His last outing of the Spring came on March 25, allowing six hits and three earned runs to the Royals in 5 2/3 innings.

Despite being around since 2019 now, the 25-year-old May is still at just 143 2/3 innings in his major league career, with more than a third of those coming during the 2020 season. Even so, his career splits mirror that of Kelly’s so far, with a 4.56 FIP and 4.00 xFIP to lefties and a 3.43 and 3.29 FIP and xFIP to righties with a pretty even balance of batters faced on both sides of the plate (286 left-handed batters to 299 righties).

Arizona is sending out four lefties and two switch hitters against May, with Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Christian Walker and Gabriel Moreno the three righties left in the order. That lineup has a combined 15 at-bats against May, with Walker’s 3-for-4 the only experience of any real significance.


First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. PT on Sportsnet LA with the game also available on ESPN+.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree.