The Dodgers took the series opener from the Twins last night, as Phil Bickford and Phil Cuzzi turned in legendary performances to propel the Dodgers to some 12th-inning shrimp. Noah Syndergaard was solid and the Dodger bullpen struggled for the first time in a bit. Minnesota scored six runs in the seventh inning or later, but Bickford bounced back from a rough 10th inning and held the Twins off the board in the 11th and 12th to leave the door open for a walk-off.
It was their sixth straight win and gave the Dodgers (27-15) a .643 winning percentage, the second-best in baseball behind the Rays. Tonight, the Dodgers look for a seventh straight win and sixth straight series win.
|7:10 PM||Los Angeles|
|P||Ober (R)||P||Kershaw (L)|
Clayton Kershaw starts tonight and is asked again to pick up a depleted bullpen. The Dodgers used six relievers last night and four of them threw 20+ pitches (Caleb Ferguson and Evan Phillips threw 17 each), while Brusdar Graterol (had pitched back-to-back games) and Victor Gonzalez (27 pitches on Sunday) did not appear. Kershaw was up to the task in his last outing, which came after Syndergaard was removed after the first inning with a blister. He gave the Dodgers seven strong innings last Wednesday in Milwaukee, as he allowed five hits and one run with eight strikeouts and no walks. It’s a bit shocking that Kershaw is making the start tonight after his mother passed away on Saturday, but he’s getting the ball and will be tasked with giving the Dodgers a decently deep outing.
Kershaw’s first start last season came in Minnesota and was a controversial one (for dumb reasons). It was his first start of the season after missing a couple months in 2021 and not having a full offseason program due to a lockout. Kershaw threw seven perfect innings in Minnesota with 13 strikeouts, but was lifted after only 80 pitches (and Alex Vesia allowed a single to the second batter he faced in the eighth). It was a dominant performance and two shy of his career-high in strikeouts.
Bailey Ober makes his fifth start of the season for the Twins. Ober was steller in his first three starts, allowing two runs and 10 hits in 18 1/3 innings. His last start was less-dominant-but-still-solid, as he held the Padres to three runs and six hits over six innings. Ober has had a solid start to his Major League career, as he comes into today’s game with roughly a full-season’s worth of innings under his belt (172 2/3 innings). He has a 3.54 ERA/3.81 FIP and 1.112 WHIP in 35 starts over his career. The Dodgers originally drafted Ober in the 23rd round of the 2016 Draft, but he went back to College of Charleston and the Twins made him the first pick of the 12th round in the 2017 draft. He’s also 6’9, so let me see those nice comments below.
Ober throws a fastball nearly half the time (47.5 percent, 49.1 percent of the time in 2022) and averages 91.6 MPH with it. He throws a slider 22.3 percent of the time, a changeup 20.1 percent (mostly to lefties) and a curve 10.2 percent of the time.
Will Smith sits as Austin Barnes catches Kershaw. The Dodgers are 13-1 with Smith in the lineup since he returned from the IL, which seems good. Mookie Betts starts at second as the Dodgers deploy their three-lefty outfield.
Despite the usage of the bullpen last night, no one was called up today.
Dylan Covey was seen in the clubhouse pregame, but won’t be activated today. He could be up tomorrow if the bullpen is used heavily today, or potentially if Kershaw goes on the bereavement list after his start.
Walker Buehler threw a bullpen today.
Buehler set a goal to start a game by September 1, which Dave Roberts sorta quickly threw a wet blanket on. It is promising to see some progress, and adding a healthy Buehler to this staff would be big. It would negatively impact Dodgers Twitter, as he’s developed into a 70-grade shitposter online.
Much to the surprise of most Dodger fans, Brock Stewart is on the Twins and appeared last night. Today, another old friend could appear.
Jose De Leon was called up today and is looking to make his first Major League appearance since May 4, 2021. The former prized Dodger prospect has not panned out, but signed with the Twins in December and put up great numbers in the Puerto Rican winter league.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM PT and will be shown on SportsNet LA.