Yankees @ Dodgers June 2, 2023: Kershaw starts as Judge and Co. visit Los Angeles

Tonight, the Dodgers and Yankees open a three-game weekend series at Dodger Stadium. It will be the first time these two teams play each other since Aug. 23-25, 2019, also in Los Angeles. Both teams trail the Texas Rangers for the best record in May at 18-9, but they trail ever so slightly, with the Yankees at 19-10, and the Dodgers 18-10. The team enters this weekend’s series in first place in the NL West at 34-23, with the Yankees at 34-24, though they are stuck in third place in the extremely competitive AL East. Clayton Kershaw will take the mound against the right-handed Luis Severino, who’ll be making just his third start of the season.

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7:10 PM Los Angeles
2B Torres RF Betts
RF Judge 1B Freeman (L)
1B Rizzo (L) C Smith
DH Stanton 3B Muncy (L)
3B Donaldson DH Martinez
LF Kiner-Falefa LF Heyward (L)
SS Volpe 2B Vargas
C Trevino CF Outman (L)
CF Allen (S) SS Rojas
P Severino (R) P Kershaw (L)

The Yankees have three everyday players that are above average by wRC+, Aaron Judge (190), Anthony Rizzo (146), and Gleyber Torres (118). However, just in time for this series the Yankees will activate slugger Giancarlo Stanton, and former MVP Josh Donaldson. For contrast, the Dodgers have nine players with above average wRC+, led by Freddie Freeman (170), Will Smith (160), J.D. Martinez (145), and Mookie Betts (138).

Here’s how the two offenses compare as a whole.

Judge has been out of this world good since returning from a minor hip injury on May 9. He’s hit twelve home runs and reached base 46 times in 21 games since coming off the injured list. Judge almost certainly will not hit 62 home runs again, though his .298/.410/.679 batting line is awfully close to last season’s .311/.425/.686 effort. Until someone comes and claims it from him, he’s the best player in baseball.

Meanwhile for the Dodgers, they’ve been carried by specific members of their offense as of late. Freeman has gone nuclear during his current twenty game hitting streak, and Martinez has seven home runs in his last eleven games after a slow start. Jason Heyward deserves a mention as well, as he’s been streaky this season, but is on a good stretch having slashed .333/.448/.667 the last two weeks. Since returning from injury, Martinez is slashing .311/.388/.703, for a 173 wRC+ and 1.041 OPS. For Betts, over his last 28 games (131 PA) dating back to the end of April, he’s slashing .270/.374/.595, good for a 160 wRC+ and .969 OPS. For Freeman, his 170 wRC+ trails just Yandy Diaz (179) and Judge (190). Freeman won player of the month, with a May slash line of .400/.462/.722, good for an 1.184 OPS and 212 wRC+, and his 2.9 fWAR leads all of baseball.

Freeman leads baseball in extra base hits with 34, and Betts and Martinez are tied for second in the NL with 28. Matt Chapman leads the AL with 29.


Here’s how the two pitchers matchup. Severino is making his third start of the season, but this is how Kershaw fares amongst 71 qualified starting pitchers.

Severino allowed one run on one hit and three walks over 6.2 innings against the Padres last time out, with five strikeouts. His one hit allowed was a solo homer off the bat of Fernando Tatis Jr. in the fourth. For Yankees fans it was definitely encouraging to see Severino reach into the seventh inning, although he was still pulled after only 82 pitches after going 75 in his first start of 2023. Considering Severino has managed to pitch only 120.0 innings combined over the last three years, expect the Yankees to continue to hold him on a some sort of pitch count. His average four-seam fastball velocity of 97.3 MPH this year is up a tick from last year, and two from 2021. He’s back to sitting at his averages in 2017 (97.6) and 2018 (97.7). Those two years also happened to be the best years of his career, topping five fWAR each season, being an All-Star both years, and coming top ten in the American League Cy Young voting each season.

Kershaw allowed four runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six batters over five innings in a no-decision against Tampa Bay last Saturday. He looked good through three scoreless frames and carried a 3-0 lead into the fourth. However, the Rays converted a walk and two hits into two runs in that inning before taking the lead on a Harold Ramirez two-run homer in the fifth. Kershaw’s outing ended after five frames and 83 pitches, marking the third straight outing during which he’s had a relatively early exit. He’s allowed ten runs over 12.2 innings over that span, pushing his season ERA up to 3.32. Kershaw is still piling up strikeouts, as he still has 34 across his past 24.1 frames, but he’s uncharacteristically issued eleven free passes during that span after walking just five batters across his first 38 innings this season. He’s still been the best starter in the Dodgers’ rotation this year, and I’m sure he’ll get back to his normal self soon.


Noah Syndergaard will remain in the rotation for now. Hopefully he can turn it around, the Dodgers are 4-7 in his starts, and one of those wins was when he went just one inning.


Freeman has been crazy hot the entire month of May, and was very deserving of his Player of the Month award. This FanGraphs post by Davy Andrews highlights Freeman at great length. His 24 extra base hits in a month is a franchise record.


All-Star voting is open!


First pitch is at 7:10 PM PT on SNLA and MLB Network.

About Allan Yamashige

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Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!