Reds @ Dodgers July 30, 2023: Grove and Co. go for series win

The Dodgers (59-44) held on to a tight one last night, winning by a score of 3-2 behind a great start from Emmet Sheehan, a four-out save from Evan Phillips, and two homers and all three RBI from Max Muncy. The Reds (57-49) took two of three games back in Cincinnati, so with a win today the Dodgers would even the season series at three wins apiece. Michael Grove will be on the hill up against the right-handed Graham Ashcraft.

The challenge? The Dodgers are 0-9 in their last nine Sunday games. Their last Sunday win was against the Padres on Mothers Day, May 14. They’ve also lost the final game of each of their last four series. Combine the two? Good luck.

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1:10 PM Los Angeles
SS De La Cruz (S) LF Peralta (L)
CF Friedl (L) 1B Freeman (L)
2B McLain C Smith
RF Fraley (L) 3B Muncy (L)
3B Steer DH Martinez
DH Votto (L) CF Outman (L)
1B Encarnacion-Strand RF Heyward (L)
C Stephenson 2B Hern√°ndez
LF Benson (L) SS Rojas
P Ashcraft (R) P Grove (R)

Mookie Betts will be out for the second consecutive game with ankle soreness, with Jason Heyward in right field and Enrique Hernandez at second base. Miguel Rojas is at shortstop against the right-handed Ashcraft, while David Peralta and James Outman join Heyward in the outfield. Nobody did much of anything besides Max Muncy yesterday, so any contributions from anyone would be appreciated. With no Betts in the lineup and Rojas at short, the team can’t really sacrifice the offense that Will Smith provides over Austin Barnes, so Smith will be starting a Sunday day game which is a rarity.

Sheehan and the bullpen held the Reds to just two runs last night, but Cincinnati has scored the ninth most runs in baseball this season and they’ll look to do more damage today.

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Here’s how the two starting pitchers match up.

Grove allowed two runs on eight hits and struck out six without allowing a walk over 4.2 innings against the Blue Jays last time out. He was solid beside allowing eight hits, but benefited from not allowing free passes. Over his last six outings, he now has a 4.05 ERA and 3.06 FIP with a wild .388 BABIP against, but with the home run to fly-ball rate regressing back towards league average.

Overall, Grove has more or less been a league average starting pitcher by all metrics besides ERA (the most important one, I know). The league average performance from a starting pitcher this year is a 4.44 ERA, 4.42 FIP, 22.0% strikeout rate, and 7.9% walk rate. Outside of ERA, he hits those almost dead on, with an above-average walk rate. The main difference is that the average BABIP against is at .296, compared to .367 for Grove. Additionally, his 14.3% home run to fly-ball rate is slightly above league average (13.1%). Of qualified starters, Grove’s .367 BABIP would be first, ahead of the likely soon to be traded Jack Flaherty (.345). If you drop the minimum innings limit to 50, there are 182 pitchers to hit that mark, and his .367 BABIP is the fourth highest.

Ashcraft allowed two runs on five hits and four walks while striking out eight batters over 5.1 innings against Milwaukee on Monday. That tied a season high in walks for him, which has been a weakness for him all season. He also featured a season high in strikeouts that game, so that hits that effectively wild definition. If he managed to get through the sixth inning, he would’ve notched his fifth straight quality start which is impressive for someone with a 5.64 ERA. He’s been pitching well over that stretch going back to the end of June, with a 2.10 ERA and 1.27 WHIP, albeit with just 22 strikeouts and 13 walks in 30.0 innings. He’s very hittable and issues his fair share of walks, but the Dodgers couldn’t do anything yesterday against Luke Weaver who had been even worse.

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I’ve always enjoyed watching Lance Lynn pitch, so this should be fun. Couldn’t really ask for a better matchup for your first outing with a new club than the Oakland A’s (30-76). Julio Urias having a nail issue isn’t promising however.

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Josh posted an article earlier today that details the future roster crunch that the Dodgers’ minor league system will be facing shortly. The team doesn’t have room to keep everyone when roster sizes constrict, so check it out to see what he has to say.

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First pitch is at 1:10 PM PT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

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Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!