Dodgers @ Cubs April 23, 2023: Maybe Win A Series

Photo: Sarah Wexler

The Dodgers enter this afternoon’s series finale with the Cubs having not won consecutive games since April 3rd, 4th, and 6th, when they improved their record to 5-2. They are 6-9 since, having recently settled into a maddening pattern of alternating between .500 and one game below it. Today’s contest seems like an opportune time to flip that script, as Clayton Kershaw takes the ball for the Dodgers.

Kershaw is coming off one of his best starts in recent memory, in which he struck out nine Mets and allowed just three hits in seven shutout innings. In his last few starts, Kershaw has been relying more and more on his offspeed pitches; only 38 of his 105 offerings against the Mets were fastballs. Those fastballs are also being thrown a bit harder than past seasons, and he has stated that he is placing further emphasis on throwing those fastballs to both sides of the plate rather than his typical glove-side-only approach. It’s hard to argue with the results so far.

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11:20 AM Chicago
SS Betts 2B Hoerner
1B Freeman (L) SS Swanson
3B Muncy CF Bellinger (L)
DH Martinez RF Suzuki
CF Outman (L) DH Wisdom
RF Heyward (L) 1B Hosmer (L)
LF Peralta (L) DH Torrens
2B Vargas C Gomes
C Barnes 3B Madrigal
P Kershaw (L) P Stroman (R)

Attempting to prevent the Dodgers from notching repeat victories will be Marcus Stroman, who has begun his season on a hot streak. The Dodgers did not see Stroman in their previous meeting, and it’s just as well – he has allowed just two runs in his 24 innings thus far. His peripherals are obviously less good than a 0.75 ERA, but 25 strikeouts in that span is a notable change over his standard contact-oriented approach. Stroman is throwing significantly more cutters and sliders this season and has nearly completely shelved his change, and so far batters are missing their swings 5% more often than they were last season. The samples are small, but early indications are that the Dodgers will have their work cut out for them this afternoon.

The Dodgers’ counter to Stroman is interesting in that Mookie Betts gets the start at shortstop today, after switching to the position late in games several times earlier this series. This does strengthen the lineup by moving Luke Williams to the bench, though the names behind Outman still inspire little confidence. Jason Heyward in particular has been hitting the hell out of the ball with very few results to show for it, and the same can be said for David Peralta. Still, if the Dodgers want to find any consistency whatsoever, it can’t be with a lineup that has four dead spots on the back end. Those two will have to figure out how to turn those hard hits into results sooner rather than later – this season does not afford the luxury of waiting around for things to normalize.


While the Dodgers did not make their seemingly daily transaction today, there is some news about one to come:

The logic here is likely that the Dodgers did not want to add Gavin Stone to the 40-man roster for what would likely be a temporary trip to the big leagues, though that logic is not exactly air tight. While Stone has looked very uneven in his starts this year, having Gonsolin essentially rehab for the big league club seems short-sighted, especially as those rehab pitches will likely be higher stress. Stone will be on the 40-man roster sooner rather than later anyways, so the decision to have Gonsolin work through what is essentially his second Spring Training start in a game that counts is a bit strange.

Thankfully, there is also better news:

Smith’s absence has been very acutely felt, but it’s good to see the club being cautious here. With any luck, he will be back when the Dodgers return home from their upcoming series in Pittsburgh. The lineup desperately misses him.

About Daniel Brim

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Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area but doesn't live there anymore. He still watches the Dodgers and writes about them sometimes.