As of a few hours before the scheduled time for first pitch, it didn’t look too great in Denver.
And if the tornado doesn’t get them, the waterfall into the visiting dugout might.
While rain, hail, thunder and lightning were hitting Denver around 4 p.m. MT, the forecast says it will just be partly cloudy around 6 p.m. MT, with first pitch scheduled for 40 minutes later. So it seems like they should still be able to play at some point tonight.
|3B||Muncy (L)||3B||McMahon (L)|
|RF||Heyward (L)||RF||Jones (L)|
|P||Sheehan (R)||P||Anderson (R)|
It’ll be Will Smith on the bench tonight as Austin Barnes starts (and even just plays) for the first time since June 17. Hitting .182/.357/..273/.630 in 14 plate appearances in June, Barnes has actually improved on his numbers from his first two months of the season when he slashed .096/.183/.110/.293. Smith joins Yonny Hernandez, Miguel Rojas and Jonny Deluca on the bench as the Dodgers send out their left-handed batting outfield, with Mookie Betts getting his 10th start at short.
Betts has slashed .250/.325/.583/.908 at short compared to .286/.379/.464/.843 at second base and .244/.351/.512/.863 while in right field. None of this really means anything, but if Jason Heyward is going to keep up his .292/.366/.514/.880 line over the past 82 PAs and David Peralta is going to hang around his .333/.378/.513/.891 line in 127 PAs since May 1, it makes sense to keep Betts at shortstop to stack the outfield with left-handed batters.
Chase Anderson has been bad against righties and lefties in 2023, but left-handed batters do have a slight edge with a .297 average and .949 OPS compared to right-handed batters .275 and .817 OPS in 2023. That’s all unique to this season, as Anderson’s career splits are flipped the other way at a .223 average and .695 OPS compared to a .278 average and .831 OPS for right-handed batters since his debut in 2014.
The cause of that may be Anderson’s change-up not succeeding as it used to against left-handed batters. A .335 xwOBA in 2023 is well ahead of 2022’s .255 and 2021’s .259. The pitch is at its lowest horizontal break ever, down to 15.7 inches compared to 16.6 in 2022 while also up to its highest velocity, 83.6 mph, from 82.9 in 2022 and 81.9 in 2021. With lefties seeing the change 34.8% of the time, followed by the fastball at 28.4% and cutter at 17.2%, none of Anderson’s options have lefties with a wOBA under 340 and only the cutter’s xwOBA is under .320.
Right-handed batters have seen a jump in fastballs and cutters compared to 2022, with the pitches at 34.4% and 31.5% respectively from 22.1% each last year. Anderson is now going with a sweeper against them as his third pitch, sitting at 14.0% with the change (8.3%) and sinker (8.0%) down from 19.4% and 15.9% in 2022.
For Sheehan, he will get to experience Coors after pitching in Dodger Stadium for his first two career starts. Holding the Giants and Astros to a combined three hits and four walks across 12 innings while striking out seven, Sheehan’s only real trouble came when Mauricio Dubón and Kyle Tucker went back-to-back to open the 4th inning.
It’s been 65.3% fastballs at 95.7 mph, followed by 24.4% sliders and 10.2% change-ups overall. The fastball percentage is at 71.6% for lefties, with 21.6% changes while righties have seen 60.8% fastballs and 37.3% sliders through those first two starts.
The slider has been the swing and miss pitch, with right-handed batters at a 35.0 Whiff%. The velocity (87.2 mph) and movement (31.1 inches vertical, 2.9 inches horizontal) are very similar to Tony Gonsolin‘s slider (86.5 mph, 30.1 inches vertical and 2.8 inches horizontal).
For a team sitting at 44-35, third place in the NL West and fifth in the National League, this is pretty funny to me.
With Betts in the All-Star Game, he will also participate in the Home Run Derby … which would have been much cooler a year ago at Dodger Stadium. But I am just bitter as I would have liked to see him there in person.
Really, it seems logical to assume May won’t be back in 2023.
Clayton Kershaw‘s shoulder was “cranky” after Wednesday, whatever that’s supposed to mean.
First pitch is scheduled for 5:40 p.m. PT from Coors Field on SportsNet LA and MLB Network.