Blue Jays @ Dodgers July 24, 2023: Grove starts as the Dodgers return home for the first time in the second half

Dodger Stadium Entrance
Photo: Cody Bashore

The Dodgers found success in their first road trip of the second half (for the most part). They were .500 on the road in the first half of the season, but opened the second half with a tough nine-game stretch against the Mets, Orioles and Rangers. They went 6-3 and had a chance to sweep in each series, but managed to lose the finale of each series. They ended the first half in a virtual tie for first (percentage points ahead of Arizona) and entering play today are now four up on both Arizona and San Francisco (who already lost to the Tigers this afternoon).

The offense and bullpen are clicking while the rotation is… not. With the trade deadline a week away, the Dodgers return home for nine games, starting with three against the Blue Jays. Toronto is 55-45 this season, which is tied for the seventh best record in all of baseball. They’re in third in the AL East behind the Orioles and Rays, but have been struggling a bit as of late. They opened the second half with a much-appreciated sweep against Arizona, but have lost four of six since in a very opposite Dodger-esque way. They’ve dropped the first two games of their series against San Diego and Seattle, but avoided the sweep in the finale each time. The two teams last met in 2019, when the Dodgers won 16-3 in the opener and then swept with two other walk-off wins.

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7:10 P.M. Los Angeles
RF Springer 2B Betts
DH Guerrero Jr. 1B Freeman (L)
1B Belt (L) C Smith
3B Chapman DH Muncy (L)
2B Merrifield LF Peralta (L)
LF Varsho (L) RF Heyward (L)
C Kirk SS Taylor
SS Espinal CF Outman (L)
CF Kiermaier (L) 3B Hernandez (S)
P Berrios (R) P Grove (R)

Michael Grove starts coming off one of the best starts of his career. He held the Orioles to five hits and a run over five innings and came out for the sixth, but started the inning with a double and a walk and was pulled before recording an out. All of the hits he allowed were quite earned, as they all came with exit velocities over 102 MPH. He did a good job working out of some trouble in the second, as an RBI double and error put a runner on third with one out. Grove responded with a strikeout and a weak groundout. Grove seemingly added a cutter about a month ago and in Baltimore he threw it 29.7 percent of the time (all to lefties), only throwing his four-seamer more often. Orioles only had one hit on 27 of them, and he struck out two with it.

Jose Berrios gets the start for Toronto. He’s bounced back nicely from last season, where allowed more hits and runs than any other qualified starter. So far this season, Berrios has been much better. His 3.39 ERA is the 22nd-best among qualified starters in all of baseball (12th in the AL), and since his third start of the season it’s 2.71. He started the season ominously, with 12 earned runs allowed in the first two games. He’s allowed 33 runs in the 18 games since, and he’s only failed to complete five innings once in that span. Berrios had a mini-rough stretch to end June, but has been excellent in three July starts. He’s allowed three runs in 18 1/3 innings and allowed only one hit in seven innings against the White Sox to start the month. He held the Diamondbacks to a run over 5 1/3 innings out of the break, and last time out allowed two runs in six innings against San Diego.

Berrios has thrown four different pitch types this season and uses them pretty evenly. He throws a slurve most often (29.6 percent of the time), a sinker 29 percent of the time, a four-seamer 21.2 percent of the time and changeup 20.2 percent of the time (more often to lefties but still will throw it to righties). Berrios has only seen the Dodgers once in his eight-year career and it did not go well for him. He started in LA in his second year in the Majors and shut the Dodgers out through three, but allowed four runs on five hits in the fourth, which ended his night.

As promised yesterday, J.D. Martinez is out today after being scratched before yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. He’s expected to be in there tomorrow and is reportedly available to hit tonight if needed. Max Muncy serves as the DH tonight and Yonny Hernandez gets the start at third with Chris Taylor starting at short.


Clayton Kershaw‘s pitching schedule update.

Way more ominous than you needed to be, Dave. Kershaw was slated to throw a bullpen tonight, but yesterday they decided to further map out his potential return.


Kershaw may not be the only addition to the rotation in the next couple weeks

With a week until the deadline, the Dodgers should probably be prioritizing adding at least one starter. The starting pitching trade market isn’t great this season. Shohei Ohtani is the big fish, but the Angels are slightly too in-the-race to think he’ll for sure be moved (four games out of a Wild Card spot). Blake Snell could be moved by the Padres if they decide to punt on the rest of the season, Mitch Keller‘s name started to pop up with a probably huge price tag. Cody already wrote about Jordan Montgomery, and another pitcher or two will definitely be popping up in our deadline series over the next week or so.


Nevermind, no trade needed.


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.