Diamondbacks @ Dodgers April 1, 2023: Once again, Kershaw vs. Bumgarner

With four outs with at least a .600 xBA, three of those with an exit velocity of at least 102 mph, last night’s 2-1 loss was a little frustrating for the Dodgers. And that’s before you factor in the nine walks drawn by the Dodgers’ offense against the D-backs’ pitching.

That all wasted the longest outing of Dustin May’s career in the majors, one that included an uptick on the spin rate and vertical drop of his curveball from the past few seasons. Needing just 84 pitches across the 7 innings, May struck out four to just one walk while allowing one double and two singles.

Unfortunately the Dodgers managed just five hits despite the hard contact, with Mookie Betts’ solo homer accounting for the lone run after the Dodgers scored eight to open the season. While Max Muncy bounced back from his five-strikeout season opener, it was J.D. Martinez going down on strikes three times. Credit to Miguel Vargas though for drawing three of the Dodgers’ nine walks while adding a double.

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6:10 PM Los Angeles
DH Lewis RF Betts
2B Marte (S) 1B Freeman (L)
LF Gurriel Jr. DH Martinez
1B Walker 3B Muncy (L)
3B Longoria LF Taylor
RF Carroll (L) 2B Vargas
SS Ahmed CF Thompson
C Moreno SS Rojas
CF Thomas (L) C Barnes
P Bumgarner (L) P Kershaw (L)

With the left-handed Madison Bumgarner on the mound, the Dodgers switch up the lineup after a pair of games with an identical order.

As Dave Roberts mentioned yesterday, Austin Barnes is behind the plate to catch Clayton Kershaw’s first start of the season. That sends Will Smith, who is 4-of-7 with two walks in the opening series, to the bench as Martinez remains in the order at DH and bumped up to No. 3. Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson take over in the outfield for David Peralta and James Outman as expected while the back half of the order shifts up a spot with Barnes down at ninth.

For the D-backs, they go back to a similar look to Opening Day against the left-handed Kershaw. Kyle Lewis is back atop the order at DH, with the same seven to follow as Opening Day (in a very slightly different order and defensive alignment). Alek Thomas rounds out the order as he starts for a second straight day in center field with Corbin Carroll starting in his third different outfield position through three games this season.


Bumgarner begins his fourth season with the D-backs since signing his 5-year, $85-million deal back in December 2019. And in that timespan, the now 33-year-old Bumgarner has accumulated… 0.3 bWAR and 1.4 fWAR across 346 2/3 innings with Arizona. Finishing with a 4.88 ERA, 5.53 xERA, 4.85 FIP and 4.83 xFIP, Bumgarner’s 2022 was a bit rough.

Bumgarner threw 11 1/3 innings during the spring, striking out six to six walks and three hit batters. His last outing came back on Monday against the Guardians, allowing four runs (two earned) across 5 innings with two strikeouts and two walks.

Mookie Betts’ .333/.412/.733/1.145 line in 15 at-bats against Bumgarner is the best for any Dodger. And after that, there’s a lack of significant historical success against Bumgarner for most of the lineup. Smith’s .300/.300/.700/1.000 in 10 at-bats, but he’s not starting tonight, and Miguel Rojas‘ .333/.368/.500/.868 in 18 at-bats are the only others above a .800 OPS while Muncy is actually only at .176/.263/.353/.616 in 17 at-bats with the one memorable homer. Barnes’ .190/.261/.476/.737 line in 21 at-bats includes a pair of home runs while Freeman also has a pair of home runs and a .708 OPS in his 44 career at-bats

Since moving from San Francisco to Arizona, Bumgarner has faced the Dodgers five times with three of those coming last season. One of those includes a 6-inning outing last May where he allowed five runs with homers by Edwin Rios, Betts and Trea Turner while his final outing of 2022 included 6 innings with just one run allowed on another homer for Betts.


As for the 35-year-old Kershaw, this begins his 16th season for the Dodgers and is coming off yet another impressive year. Finishing the spring with a 3.44 ERA in 18 1/3 innings, Kershaw struck out 16 to just two walks.

Kershaw faced the D-backs just twice last season, both coming in mid-September. Striking out 15 across 13 innings in those two games, Kershaw allowed just eight hits and one walk while allowing one run.

Christian Walker is notably one of the better career hitters against Kershaw, with a .286/.310/.714/1.025 line across 28 at-bats, striking out 10 times to four career home runs. A quick check seems to show that only four players have at least four career home runs against Kershaw, with Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and hilariously Adam Dunn joining Walker.

Evan Longoria and Nick Ahmed don’t have much success in their 33 career at-bats against Kershaw, with the former at .273/.314/.333/.648 and the latter .182/.270/.273/.543. Ketel Marte’s .815 OPS in 34 at-bats includes a pair of homers among his nine hits, but the other five batters in Arizona’s order have a combined two at-bats against Kershaw, both by Lewis.


Catching up one a few things from yesterday, Tony Gonsolin will throw a bullpen session tomorrow in Arizona, with Michael Grove starting just two or three games if things go as the team hopes.


First pitch from Dodger Stadium is set for 6:10 p.m. PT on SportsNet LA and MLB Network.

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.