Just as they were on Saturday, the Dodgers are looking to avoid a series loss while facing a left-handed starter.
However, it’s Noah Syndergaard on the mound for Los Angeles rather than Dustin May. That means two runs may not be enough like it was against Blake Snell, who honestly has pretty similar numbers to Eric Lauer so far in 2023. Winners in their past three series, a loss tonight would snap that streak and drop the Dodgers back under .500 on the road this season.
With Syndergaard still looking to work deeper than the 6th inning this season and lasting just 9 1/3 in his past two starts against the Pirates and Cardinals, here’s where the bullpen stands over the past two series with the Phillies and Padres as well as yesterday’s opener in Milwaukee.
|Pitcher||May 1||May 2||May 3||May 4||May 5||May 6||May 7||May 8|
|1B||Freeman (L)||DH||Winker (L)|
|DH||Outman (L)||2B||Turang (L)|
|P||Syndergaard (R)||P||Lauer (L)|
No real surprises in the Dodgers’ lineup as David Peralta and Jason Heyward are on the bench against a lefty while Trayce Thompson gets another shot. Now slashing .087/.236/.152/.389 in 46 at-bats with eight walks, a hit by pitch and 26 strikeouts. That run includes an 0-for-24 stretch with three walks and 15 strikeouts since a 2nd-inning single against the Mets on April 17.
As I briefly mentioned above, Lauer’s numbers for the Brewers this season aren’t that far off of what Snell has done for the Padres despite a glaring difference in Whiff% and Stuff+.
Now I’ll remind you the Dodgers came up with exactly one hit off of Snell, but it just happened to be Chris Taylor’s two-run homer and followed one of his three walks. That was enough in the 2-1 victory thanks to May’s scoreless 6 innings and the Dodgers holding it together to allow just one run.
Lauer’s velocity is down across all five of his pitches with his fastball averaging 90.7 mph from 93.3 mph last season and 92.6 mph in 2021. His 86.3 mph cutter is down from the 90.3 and 89.8 is was over the last two seasons, the slider is at 82.9 mph from 87.4 and 86.8 and the curve is 75.3 from 78.9 and 78.3.
Tonight will be Lauer’s 12th career appearance against the Dodgers, with seven of those coming for the Padres back in 2018 and 2019. Focusing on the four over the past two seasons, Lauer has allowed seven runs across the 22 innings for the Brewers. Walking nine to 15 strikeouts, Lauer allowed 19 hits in those four starts. Four of those hits have been home runs, with Austin Barnes and Max Muncy each hitting solo shots on Aug. 17, 2022 to account for Lauer’s only loss against Los Angeles. Back in 2021, Lauer’s first and last starts of the season came against the Dodgers with Trea Turner hitting a pair of homers on Oct. 1.
Both right-handed and left-handed batters will see more cutters from Lauer than they have in all of those past meetings.
And really, the three lefties in the Dodgers’ order today are going to see 83.4% fastballs of cutters with the slider mixed in and a very occasional curveball.
Muncy’s 3.0 RV/100 against sliders, 3.3 RV/100 against cutters and 3.4 RV/100 against four-seamers rank Top 30, Top 25 and Top 40 in the league respectively. Of course, Muncy’s slashing .147/.286/.412/.697 with a 91 wRC+ against left-handed pitching this season so who knows how any of that is going to translate.
With Lauer on the mound, the update on the Dodgers’ offense against lefties will still disappoint everyone. Now at 86 wRC+, the Dodgers rank 23rd while a .669 OPS ranks 25th and a .193 average 30th. The 11.1 BB% against lefties is still really carrying the Dodgers as it ranks third in the league compared to a 26.9 K% that’s the fifth-highest.
Outman’s 176 wRC+ against lefties is actually the best on the team (once you take out Michael Busch‘s 480 wRC+ in his one PA) despite his 11 strikeouts in 28 at-bats. Taylor is doing his job against left-handed pitching, with a 150 wRC+ that includes five home runs and a double around his 14 strikeouts in 28 at-bats. Mookie Betts (136 wRC+) and Will Smith (104 wRC+) are the only other two Dodgers above 100 wRC+ with at least 18 PAs against lefties. Peralta has now managed a 164 wRC+ against lefties in his 6 PAs thanks to a pair of singles and a walk.
In terms of career numbers against Lauer, Muncy is 5-for-18 with two home runs and four strikeouts. Meanwhile, Taylor is 3-for-23 with a home run and six strikeouts.
Honestly, I don’t have much interest in adding a ton of detail on Syndergaard as I somehow have managed to cover the thread in two of his six starts so far this season.
Since he struck out nine Cubs back on April 14, Syndergaard has just four total strikeouts in his past three outings.
I’m stating the obvious here, but Syndergaard’s Whiff% has dropped down since that start. It’s clear he’s trying to figure out what may work best, as his curveball break was 14 inches horizontally and 46 inches vertically on April 25, and 10 inches horizontal and 48 inches vertical on April 30 as he increased the usage. At the same time, the sinker and changeup have come closer together in vertical break while having almost an identical horizontal break and a 5 mph difference.
For right-handed batters, the sinker took off again in his last start while Syndergaard used the curve 21.4% after not throwing the pitch to righties since he used it once on April 8.
Syndergaard also increased his usage of the curve against lefties over the past three starts with the cutter gradually going back down.
The good news for Syndergaard is the Brewers have mostly struggled against sinkers this season, so he has that going for him.
Christian Yelich‘s 5-for-20 with a home run and six strikeouts is the best among the Brewers’ order today, but this isn’t exactly the same Syndergaard that Brian Anderson went 2-for-15 against over the years.
First pitch from American Family Field in Milwaukee is scheduled for 4:40 p.m. PT on SportsNet LA.