Noah Syndergaard continued his tough stretch of performance yesterday, giving up six earned runs in three innings, inflating his ERA to 7.16. The offense could’ve added on some extra runs to make things easier for the bullpen, but that didn’t happen and the Dodgers (35-27) got walked off for the second consecutive game.
They’ve now lost four games in a row, and have surrendered the lead in the NL West to Arizona (37-25). The team will look to Clayton Kershaw to help them avoid getting swept by the sub .500 Reds. Cincinnati will run out the struggling right-hander Graham Ashcraft.
|3B||Muncy (L)||3B||De La Cruz (S)|
|P||Kershaw (L)||P||Ashcraft (R)|
Coming off a loss last night, Austin Barnes will get the start over Will Smith and start at catcher. Chris Taylor is at shortstop as Miguel Rojas seemed a little gimpy last night. James Outman is back in the lineup against the right-handed Ashcraft, as Jonny DeLuca is available off the bench. DeLuca went hitless in two at-bats and added a walk in his three plate appearances last night. Both balls he hit were hard, the first a lineout to right field at 91.0 MPH with an expected batting average of .390, and the second a liner directly to third base at 95.7 MPH, an expected batting average of .660. Solid performance from him, and I suspect he’ll be ready to replace Peralta if a lefty comes in.
The Reds have scored 17 runs in two games against the Dodgers this series, so their offense is obviously clicking against poor pitching performances.
Here’s how the two starters matchup among 66 qualified starters.
Kershaw earned the win his last time out, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk over seven innings against the Yankees with nine strikeouts. He allowed eight earned runs over 8.2 innings in his previous two starts combined, as he had a 5.55 ERA in May, but he cruised against New York, tying a season-high nine strikeouts. Kershaw’s K/9 sits at 10.90, the second-highest mark of his career. That trails just his 11.64 mark in 2015, where he went 232.2 innings with a 2.13 ERA and 301 strikeouts to 42 walks, amassing 8.6 fWAR. By strikeout rate, it’s the fourth highest mark of his career, trailing just his stretch from 2014-2016, where he won a Cy Young, MVP, and finished inside the top five in Cy voting each year.
He has been dominant at home, with a 1.45 ERA, but Kershaw has struggled away from Los Angeles, posting a 4.70 ERA in road games. He hasn’t been perfect this year, but he looked much improved in his last start, and could really help the team get back on track today.
Ashcraft was decent last year with a 4.89 ERA and 4.21 FIP, but the 25 year-old has definitely taken a step back this year. He ranks near the bottom in almost every significant pitching stat among qualified starters, so the Dodger offense should stand a chance in this game. He took the loss in his last outing, a really rough appearance against Milwaukee. He allowed ten runs on nine hits and four walks over four innings with two strikeouts. That was a season-high ten earned runs allowed, marking the fourth time over his past six outings that he’s given up at least seven. He’s also surrendered eight home runs during that span. It’s certainly been a disappointing stretch for the right-hander, who posted a 2.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over his first six starts (36 innings), as he’s really been going through it.
He throws a cut fastball as his primary pitch, sitting at 96.2 MPH and thrown over half of the time. He pairs it with a high 80’s slider that he throws 37% of the time. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with his struggles, but two pitches as a starting pitcher is oftentimes not enough to get by, unless you’re maybe Spencer Strider.
As usual with these early games, not a ton of news circulating yet.
It’s an early one, enjoy it if you’re up.
First pitch is at 9:35 AM PT on SNLA and MLB Network.