Mets @ Dodgers April 19, 2023: A fascinating lineup on getaway day

Through 9,665 2/3 innings in the field in his major league career, Mookie Betts has spent 7,527 of those in right field, 1,875 2/3 in center and 263 at second base. Adding in the minor leagues, it’s 7,563 innings in right, 2,262 2/3 innings in center, 2,380 innings at second and 114 innings at shortstop. Betts last played short in 2013 with two innings during the Arizona Fall League’s Surprise Saguaros. Before that, it was six innings for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in 2011 and 106 innings for the Lowell Spinners in 2012.

The Dodgers won’t be adding to those professional innings at shortstop just yet, as Betts is not back from paternity leave. That means the Dodgers are sending out:

That’ll be the team on the field for Los Angeles this afternoon, looking to take the series from the New York Mets and move back above .500 before heading out to Chicago for four more games against the Cubs.

It’ll be a matchup between starting pitchers facing their old teams, as Noah Syndergaard faces the Mets for the first time in his career (he never faced them last summer in 10 starts for Philadelphia), while Max Scherzer faces the Dodgers for the first time since departing for the Mets following the 2021 season.

12:10 PM Los Angeles
CF Nimmo (L) CF Outman (L)
RF Marte 1B Freeman (L)
SS Lindor (S) DH Martinez
1B Alonso 3B Muncy (L)
LF McNeil (L) RF Heyward (L)
DH Vogelbach (L) 2B Vargas
3B Baty (L) LF Peralta (L)
C Alvarez SS Williams
2B Guillorme (L) C Wynns
P Scherzer (R) P Syndergaard (R)

The “big” news is that Yonny Hernandez will be joining the team.

Hernandez just returned to the OKC Dodgers last night after being on the IL himself and has 18 PAs in the minors this season going 4-for-13 with five walks and four strikeouts. During his time in the majors with the Rangers and D-backs, he’s .198/.293/.228/.521 in 194 PAs with his 33 career hits including 28 singles and five doubles. During the spring, Hernandez hit .273/.385/.424/.809 in 33 at-bats with six walks.

As for the Mets against Syndergaard, they are back to a mostly similar order as they did on Monday against the right-handed Dustin May.


Scherzer enters his fourth start of the 2023 season coming off 5 innings with just one hit allowed to the Padres on April 10. Striking out six to three walks, Scherzer finished the game with 12 misses on 46 swings with his slider finishing at 44 Whiff% (4-for-9).

Missing his originally scheduled start against the A’s on Sunday, Scherzer was pushed back to this afternoon and will face the Dodgers for the first time since July 2, 2021, about a month before he was sent to Los Angeles at the trade deadline. Prior to his start against the Padres, Scherzer had struggled a bit in his first two outings of the season as he allowed three runs on four hits and a pair of walks to the Marlins on March 30 and then five runs on eight hits, including three home runs, and two walks to the Brewers on April 4.

Scherzer struck out six across 6 innings in his season debut and was aided a bit in that game by a pair of double plays, but then struck out just two in 5 1/3 innings in Milwaukee. He ended up with 14 misses on 51 swings in the game, but when he allowed contact in the game, the Brewers mostly made him pay. With five balls going 104 mph or harder off the bat, that accounted for two home runs, two singles and a double. While Garrett Mitchell’s 6th inning homer run was just 95.1 mph off the bat with .090 xBA against a cutter, it came after Rowdy Tellez sent a curve 422 feet at 109.9 mph (.920xBA) and Brian Anderson hit a slider 414 feet at 106.7 mph (.960 xBA). After a pair of singles and a double by Anderson brought home two in the first inning, Scherzer did actually settle in with minimal damage over the next four innings before back-to-back-to-back homers and a walk ended his day.

Now at 38 years old and in the second year of his three-year, $130 million deal with the Mets, Scherzer is pretty similar to who he was two years ago. It’s still just around 86% fastball and slider to right-handed batters with his change mixed in about 8 to 9% of the time and 47 to 50% fastball for lefties with a relatively even mix of changeup, curveball and cutter. Last season’s splits against Scherzer were pretty much in line with his career totals, as right-handed batters hit .215/.239/.297/.536 and lefties at .196/.273/.348/.621. For his career, it’s .241/.308/.404/.712 for lefties and .198/.243/.330/.573 to righties.

Freeman has seen Scherzer plenty in his career, with a .234/.327/.511/.838 line in 47 career at-bats, including 12 strikeouts, seven walks and three home runs. Martinez has two career hits in 10 at-bats, both home runs while Muncy also has one career home run as part of his 4-for-13 all-time and Peralta is 6-for-20 with two home runs.


As for Syndergaard, his last time out included nine strikeouts against the Cubs for his highest total since putting up nine for the Mets back on Sept, 29, 2019. That might sound like a long time, but in reality it’s only two games at the end of 2021 and 25 from last season given all the time he missed following his Tommy John surgery.

Regardless, it was an encouraging sign after allowing six runs on eight hits while striking out only two against Arizona on April 8. Currently at 17 strikeouts in 16 innings this season, with just two walks, Syndergaard is at a 24.3 K% and a 2.9 BB%. The latter ranks among the Top 10 of starters early on in the season and his Chase % is at 33.3% to sit at the 79th percentile and is his best so far since 2018. Yes, his velocity is still down and yes his Whiff % is still just around 26.0% and yes his ground ball rate is down while his line drive and fly ball rates are up at career highs, but he’s only 16 innings into the season.

Through that small sample size, the Dodgers have Syndergaard throwing his change more than he has in his career (other than his two-outing 2021 season) and it has been getting batters to chase it so far which has led to a 39.5 Whiff%. That’s his highest percentage for any pitch since his curve back in 2019. The change has been his secondary pitch to batters on both sides of the plate this season (26.4% to lefties/29.4% to righties), trailing only his sinker (28.6 to lefties/35.3% to righties). Baseball Savant shows the Dodgers have Syndergaard throwing a cutter rather than a slider now, though really the velocity of the cutter is just in line with the slider from back in 2019, around 89 mph, and not at the speed (84.7 mph) of the slider in 2022.

The cutter (18.6% to lefties/28.4% to righties) is ahead of his fastball in overall usage as right-handed batters rarely see the pitch now, though left-handed batters still get it about a quarter of the time.

Those changes in usage have Syndergaard at .231/.286/.385/.671 to righties right now and .300/.333/.600/.933 to lefties right now, which is similar in the difference to 2022 (.256/.295/.395/.690 to righties and .272/.324/.424/.748 to lefties) and his career (.240/.280/.362/.642 vs. .257/.309/.401/.710). While his change is at a 54.5 Whiff% to right-handed batters, they are still searching for something against lefties and Syndergaard isn’t really throwing his curve now after it was at his highest Whiff% and Put Away% to left-handed batters in 2022.

Naturally, the Mets have five left-handed batters in the lineup in addition to the switch-hitting Francisco Lindor, who has the only career hit against Syndergaard among New York’s order. Starling Marte is 0-for-8 all time and no one else has seen Syndergaard in their career.


First pitch is set for 12:10 p.m. PT on SportsNet LA and is the free game of the day on MLB.TV.

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.