Astros @ Dodgers June 23, 2023: Sheehan makes his second start as the Dodgers open series against Houston

Dodger Stadium
Photo: Cody Bashore

The Dodgers bounced back from a dreadful series against the Giants with a very impressive mini-sweep of the Angels in Anaheim. They allowed four runs in the sixth inning against the Giants on Sunday, and have yet to allow a run in 21 innings since. The offense wasn’t exactly hot in Anaheim, as starters Reid Detmers and Shohei Ohtani combined to allow one run in 14 innings. Clayton Kershaw shoved in Tuesday’s game, and the Dodgers bullpenned their way to a two-hitter on Wednesday. The mini-sweep helped the Dodgers keep pace with the blistering hot Giants (.5 games back) and the Diamondbacks (four games back).

Today, the Dodgers begin a weekend series with the Astros, a fan favorite organization out here in LA. It’s sort of uncanny how similarly the Dodger and Astro seasons have gone. They have nearly identical records (Houston is 41-34, Dodgers 41-33) and sit behind surprising first-place teams in their divisions. Houston’s been behind the Rangers nearly all season, while the Dodgers spent a month in first. Both teams have struggled in June (Houston is 9-11, Dodgers 7-10) and while the Dodgers had lost three straight before winning their last two, the Astros had lost five in a row before winning their last two. They’re coming off a series win against the Mets that salvaged a rough homestand, which saw them get swept by the Reds and drop the first game against New York.

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7:10 P.M. Los Angeles
2B Altuve RF Betts
1B Dubon 1B Freeman (L)
RF Tucker (L) C Smith
3B Bregman DH Martinez
DH Diaz LF Peralta (L)
LF Julks 2B Vargas
SS Peña CF Outman (L)
CF McCormick SS Rojas
C Maldonado 3B Busch (L)
P France (R) P Sheehan (R)

Emmet Sheehan makes his second career start today after debuting against the Giants last Friday. In true Dodger fashion, Sheehan forced Dave Roberts to pull him out of a no-hitter in his debut(and in truer Dodger fashion, the first batter after Sheehan exited got a hit and the bullpen blew a 4-0 lead). Sheehan tossed six no-hit innings with two walks allowed and was only at 89 pitches when he was pulled, but he was starting to get squared up and only had a no-hitter thanks to some excellent Dodger defense. He probably could have gone another inning, but the Dodgers opted to pull him. They also opted to keep him in the rotation over Michael Grove. Sheehan now gets a look at the Astros, and it’ll be interesting to see if he changes his approach. The Giants are one of the better fastball hitting teams in baseball, and 61 of Sheehan’s 89 pitches were fastballs.

J.P. France starts for the Astros tonight. France has made eight starts and has mostly been good, with a 3.42 ERA/4.94 FIP in 47 1/3 starts. A third of the runs he’s allowed came in one start, a 3.2 inning six-run outing against the Cubs. France has allowed two or fewer runs in five of his eight starts and that start against the Cubs was his only start where he didn’t complete five innings. He’s coming off a tough luck loss, where he allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Reds. France has been excellent in his four starts away from Houston, allowing five runs and 18 hits in 24 innings over four starts.

It’s been a smaller sample size, but France’s fastballs have been the problem pitches for him this season. He’s thrown a four seamer 44 percent and cutter 16.1 percent of the time this season, his two most heavily-featured pitches. Opponents are hitting .275 with a .413 slugging against his four seamer and hitting .379 with a .517 slugging against the cutter. He only allowed a .152 average against his slider (that he throws 15.3 percent of the time), but four of the eight homers he’s surrendered this season have come off it. He’s allowed a .120 average and .280 slugging percentage against the changeup and has yet to allow a hit in his 83 curveballs thrown.


Not many surprises in the lineup, but a pair of injured players are notably not returning to the lineup today.

Max Muncy was slated to return today, but he was not and he will not be tomorrow. He could return Sunday, but is still experiencing some discomfort and it’s possible he doesn’t return until next week. Chris Taylor pinch hit in both games against the Angels, but hasn’t played the field since last Friday. He’ll still be limited to pinch hit duties tonight.


The Dodgers lost a reliever yesterday.

Tayler Scott was DFA’d on Saturday and was traded to the Red Sox for cash yesterday.

Foolishly scheduled my post before a bullpen roster move was made.

Phil Bickford is back off the IL. He’s been out since June 2 and prior to hitting the IL had allowed runs in five consecutive outings. Alex Vesia was optioned to make room for Bickford. Vesia had started to show some signs of life, but allowed runs in four straight outings prior to Wednesday’s scoreless inning against the Angels. He probably won’t sustain a .554 BABIP against him, but he’ll be working through his struggles in the minors for the time being.


Important content dump.

Truly elite stuff out of the Gala last night.

Evan Phillips and I have so much in common


First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM PT and will be shown on SportsNet LA.

About Alex Campos

I've been writing about the Dodgers since I graduated from Long Beach State, where I covered the Dirtbags in my senior year. I'm either very good or very bad at puns.