After a poor stretch of play, the Dodgers (42-33) have picked things up as of late with two shutouts against the Angels (41-36), and a 3-2 win against the Houston Astros (41-35) last night. Emmet Sheehan pitched great, allowing just two runs over six innings and picking up his first professional win. Bobby Miller will be the next rookie in the Dodgers’ rotation looking to grab a win against the defending champions. The right-handed Ronel Blanco will be on the mound for Houston, making just his fourth start of the year.
|4:15 P.M.||Los Angeles|
|P||Blanco (R)||P||Miller (R)|
After a three hit game, James Outman will slide up to sixth in the lineup, right behind Jason Heyward who is starting over David Peralta. Miguel Rojas has nine hits over his last eight games, and is slashing .409/.480/.500 over that stretch. Never going to have many expectations from Rojas with the bat, but it’s nice to have him go on stretches like this from time to time to help alleviate some pressure from the rest of the lineup. Miguel Vargas has just three hits in his last 43 at-bats over 13 games and two weeks. He’s had a handful of walks, but overall he’s hit just .070/.163/.140 over that stretch. Not great, and he’ll have a decently long leash especially with Max Muncy still out, but Michael Busch also *kinda* knows how to play second base. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on for the time being.
The Houston offense has really been struggling this year, sitting 17th in wRC+ at 99. Additionally, they’re without one of the best hitters in the sport in Yordan Alvarez (168 wRC+, .978 OPS), as he’s dealing with an oblique issue. Outside of him, they have just one batter with a wRC+ above 120, Chas McCormick at 121.
Here’s how the two right-handers matchup.
After a brief move to the bullpen, the 29 year-old Blanco shifted back into the Houston rotation last weekend against the Reds when the Astros opted to build in an extra day of rest between starts for their rookie Hunter Brown. Blanco had been expected to return to his bullpen role, but with some moving pieces in their rotation it appears a starting role is up for grabs if he can perform well enough. Given that he’s turned in a 4.76 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, with 15 strikeouts to nine walks in 17 innings in his previous three starts, it’s to be determined if he can manage to do so.
The walks have been a bit of an issue for him and he’s also featured reverse splits in a small sample size thus far. Against right-handed batters, he’s allowed a .338/.408/.544 slash, compared to .217/.339/.370 against LHB. He’s relied on two pitches which fits better in a bullpen unless those two pitches are well above-average. He goes to a high 80’s slider he’s thrown 51.5% of the time, and a mid 90’s four-seam fastball 39.2% of the time. He very rarely mixes in a changeup and a curveball to make up the other 9% of his arsenal. The Astros could use a good start from him, and he could use a good start to earn a role in the rotation.
Miller took his first loss in his last outing, allowing seven runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out five over 5.2 innings against the Giants. Miller was fine until the fifth inning, and then San Francisco just absolutely lit him and the bullpen up. It happens. Prior to that outing, Miller had given up just two runs over 23 innings across four starts. Obviously that outing spiked all his numbers, but he still has a great 2.83 ERA and a strong 1.01 WHIP.
Compared to Blanco, Miller has a very versatile arsenal. He throws both a sinker and a four-seam fastball, both sitting in the high 90’s and touching triple digits. Overall, fastballs make up roughly 50% of his arsenal, but his go-to is actually his sinker, using it 35.3% of the time compared to 13.1% for his four-seamer. He then goes to his slider that sits right around 90 MPH, 23.7% of the time as his primary off speed pitch, with a high 80’s changeup 17% of the time and a low 80’s curveball 10% of the time. Both his slider and changeup are exceptional swing and miss offerings. It’s early, but he might be a true five pitch starter. He’ll look to bounce back tonight against a struggling Houston offense.
Noah Syndergaard is making progress, but it seems the team feels he’s not very close to being ready. When you have Miller and Sheehan performing well and Julio Urias returning, barring injury Syndergaard is going to need to figure something out to get back into this rotation. The team is in third place, they can’t start him at this rate.
The Dodgers and hamstring injuries. Name a better combo.
Naturally, the team can’t afford to send down to great starters unless the performance falters.
First pitch is at 4:15 PM PT on FOX.