The Dodgers (16-13) are coming off a three-game series sweep at home against the St. Louis Cardinals (10-19), and will look to continue their winning ways tonight against the Philadelphia Phillies (15-14). Tony Gonsolin will be making his second start of the season, up against the right-handed Taijuan Walker.
|7:10 PM||Los Angeles|
|CF||Marsh (L)||RF||Heyward (L)|
|1B||Clemens (L)||LF||Peralta (L)|
|P||Walker (R)||P||Gonsolin (R)|
Here’s how these two offenses compare.
The Phillies are led by Brandon Marsh (182 wRC+, 1.065 OPS), Nick Castellanos (137 wRC+, .878 OPS), and also feature 2022 NL Home Run leader Kyle Schwarber (106 wRC+), and former Dodger All-Star Trea Turner (78 wRC+). For Marsh, of 274 players with at least 60 plate appearances, his .449 wOBA is the fifth highest, but the difference between his wOBA and expected wOBA (.344) is the second largest gap in all of baseball. Unfortunately for Marsh, it’s likely he doesn’t maintain a 182 wRC+ for the remainder of the year.
On the other hand, Freddie Freeman has a .362 wOBA, but an xwOBA of .405, which would put him in the ballpark of Mike Trout (.404), and Shohei Ohtani (.400). It’s likely he starts trending towards his expected metrics and gets back to his standard, elite level play.
The Dodgers’ offense has had great performances by a handful of players, but some very subpar performance by others has greatly reduced the overall effectiveness of the offense. Max Muncy leads the team in both wRC+ and OPS, with a 180 wRC+ and 1.071 OPS, followed by James Outman (165 wRC+, .991 OPS), and Will Smith (150 wRC+, .947 OPS), with Freeman (128 wRC+), Jason Heyward (126 wRC+), J.D. Martinez (121 wRC+), and Mookie Betts (117 wRC+), all coming in at well above average. Smith has played in just 14 of the Dodgers 29 games after missing two weeks with concussion like symptoms. Martinez was just placed on the injured list himself, and Betts is slashing just .204/.283/.370 over the last two weeks and 60 plate appearances. Michael Busch will log his first MLB innings at second base tonight with Vargas as the designated hitter.
Trayce Thompson (94 wRC+) is seemingly close to average, but removing his first game of the season in which he hit three home runs, he’s slashing just .098/.245/.171 (29 wRC+), with a 49.0% strikeout rate. Chris Taylor (67 wRC+), David Peralta (11 wRC+), Miguel Rojas (3 wRC+), and Austin Barnes (-15 wRC+) have been dragging down the offense significantly, showcasing the issue with the lineup. If the top of the order doesn’t produce, slumps, or gets injured, the team is in trouble.
Heyward has most definitely been good, and it’s possible he can provide even more than he already has. His xwOBA of .384 would be the highest of his career, and the gap between his wOBA (.359) and xwOBA matches the eye test. He’s been consistently hitting the ball extremely hard, and hasn’t fully seen the results due to some bad luck.
Both of tonight’s starters are coming off recent injuries, with Gonsolin making just his second start of the season, and Walker leaving his most recent start with forearm tightness.
Gonsolin went 3.1 scoreless innings against Pittsburgh (20-9) on Wednesday in his season debut, allowing two hits and three walks. He struck out one batter and didn’t factor in the decision. He spent the first four weeks of the campaign on the IL due to an ankle injury, so he was limited to just 65 pitches in his 2023 debut. He allowed two baserunners in the third frame before inducing an inning-ending double play, and the bullpen somehow came to his rescue in the following frame after he put two more Pirates on base with one out. He averaged 91.8 MPH on his fastball after averaging 93.2 MPH last season, although after a good amount of time away, that isn’t much of a cause for concern. Besides looking to regain some velocity and build up his pitch count, he’ll also look to tighten up the command against Philadelphia tonight.
Walker exited his last start Wednesday with right forearm tightness, an injury that often foreshadows a stint on the injured list, however the team determined he didn’t even need an MRI. While that sounds concerning and doubtful, it’s great news for Walker. He features four main offerings, a low 90’s four-seam fastball and sinker that he mixes in equally, a high 80’s splitter he throws 31% of the time, and a low 80’s slider/sweeper. It hasn’t been a great start to the season for him, as has a 4.97 ERA, 5.28 FIP, and a 1.38 WHIP. His main issue has been his command, with a 13.0% walk rate, featuring 14 walks in just 25.1 innings. The Dodgers offense loves to take their free passes, so if Walker is able to hit the strike zone he’ll have a much better chance for success tonight.
The team needs the production Martinez provides in the middle of the order, so it’s important he takes however much time he needs to fully recover.
It always seems that Bryce Harper crushes against the Dodgers, so hopefully he does suck for two days.
First pitch is at 7:10 PM on SNLA.