Tigers @ Dodgers – September 20, 2023: Looking for a sweep while in pursuit of the top spot in the NL

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

The Dodgers have returned to a 100-win pace with their current five-game win streak, and have moved to just two games back of the Braves in the loss column, so it’s pretty clear that it would be in their best interest to try to take over the top spot in the National League.

Yes, it seems like potentially playing the Brewers is the better option than the Phillies in the National League Division Series. Philadelphia is still 2.5 games back of Milwaukee in the National League, but the teams have essentially been equal in the standings since June while the Phillies’ offense has been a bit better with a .768 OPS and 106 wRC+ than the Brewers’ .699 and 90 w RC+ in 2023. With the pitching situation for the Dodgers as tenuous as I can remember for a postseason, I’d be happy to avoid the better offense. But first, who knows what will happen in the No. 4/No. 5 and No. 3/No. 6 series in the National League Wild Card round, and second, trying to take away home field advantage from Atlanta in a potential National League Championship Series feels pretty important.

The Phillies are the third-favorite for the National League title behind the Dodgers and Braves, but Los Angeles did sweep the Phillies in Los Angeles and took 1 of 3 on the road. The Dodgers also swept the Brewers at home and won 2 of 3 on the road. In fact, the Dodgers are pretty likely to hold a winning record, or at least be .500, against whoever they face in the NLDS this season. In addition to the records against the Phillies and Brwers, the Dodgers hold an 8-5 record against Arizona, a 4-3 record against Chicago and a 3-3 record against Miami. The notable exceptions are the Reds, who the Dodgers won just 2 of 6 against this year and the Giants, who lead the season series 4-2 with seven games remaining in the final 11 of 2023.

The Braves have just 10 games remaining, with seven of those against the Washington Nationals, who have lost 14 of 20 games since Aug. 30. It’s unlikely the Braves are going to finish the year 5-5 while the Dodgers go 10-2 the rest of the way, but until it is clinched they probably have to keep the pressure on the Atlanta.

It probably won’t matter who the opponent is in the NLDS and truthfully, I will be hoping they meet the D-backs in the playoffs for my own selfish reasoning of wanting to go to a game. But even after glancing quickly at the potential matchups, home field in the NLCS suddenly might be within reach and that’s once again something worth playing for.

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7:10 P.M. Los Angeles
3B Vierling 2B Betts
SS McKinstry (L) 1B Freeman (L)
1B Torkelson 3B Muncy (L)
RF Carpenter (L) DH Martinez
2B Ibanez LF Peralta (L)
DH Nevin RF Heyward (L)
LF Baddoo (L) CF Outman (L)
CF Meadows (L) SS Rojas
C Kelly C Barnes
P Olson (R) P Miller (R)

Will Smith gets the night off, at least from starting, as Austin Barnes catches Bobby Miller. The rest is as expected against a right-handed starter in Reese Olson. Jason Heyward went 0-for-3 on Monday, but is still slashing .431/.459/.741/1.200 in his past 61 PAs with eight multi-hit games in the past 17 games he had multiple plate appearances. J.D. Martinez moved his OPS from .852 to .890 over the past two games as he has gone 5-for-6 with two walks and three homers against the Tigers.

The Tigers have just five runs in the two games against the Dodgers, but Tyler Nevin is 3-for-8, Miguel Cabrera is 2-for-7, Kerry Carpenter is 2-for-7 and Parker Meadows is 2-for-7 in the series. Three of those guys are in the lineup again for Detroit, which is looking to avoid a sweep that would be the Tigers first since losing three straight in Anaheim back on July 25th to 27th.


Here’s how the 24-year-old Olson and the 25-year-old Miller compare this season:

IP107 1/392

Like Miller, Reese Olson made his Major League debut in 2023. Since being called up at the start of June, Olson has started 16 of his 19 appearances, including all of his past 11. Reaching 6 innings just six times this season, Olson has actually hit the number in his past three starts. Hitting a career-high 7 innings on Sept. 2 against the White Sox, Olson reached 6 2/3 against the White Sox again on Sept. 8 and the finished at 6 innings on Sept. 14 against the Reds. Adding in a 4 1/3-inning outing against the Yankees on Aug. 28, Olson has recorded 23 strikeouts to 9 walks across his past 24 innings with four runs allowed on 11 hits. That stretch followed 4 2/3 innings against the Cubs where he allowed six runs on four hits and three walks, with the walk total reaching at least three in five of his past eight starts.

Olson’s extremely small sample size in the majors this season has him with a pretty clear area where he struggles:

vs. LHHvs. RHH
Batters Faced167210

The difference in OPS is almost entirely due to the OBP for lefties, which is at .323 compared to .244 for right-handed batters. The 9.3% difference in walk rate is also mostly responsible for that as Olson’s usage between the two sides of the plate differs quite a bit.

Using his fastball 44.9% of the time to left-handed batters, it holds a .352 wOBA and a .453 xwOBA compared to a .228 and a .313 to right-handed batters on a 15.9% usage. Lefties see the slider 25.3%, the change-up at 18.8% and the curve at 8.8% with the very rare sinker at 2.2%. Right-handed batters have an even split of sliders (36.6%) and sinker (35.0%) with the fastball followed by the change at 10.1% and the rare curve at 2.3%.

Given the fastball’s struggles to left-handed batters, it seems useful to note Freddie Freeman‘s 2.5 RV/100 and 20 RV overall against fastballs in 2023 as well as Heyward’s 2.8 RV/100 and 11 RV overall. Overall, that ranks Freeman tied for second in the league with his RV against fastballs this season and Heyward is 25th in RV/100.


Dave Roberts provided plenty of pitching updates before Wednesday’s game, with details on Clayton Kershaw, Emmet Sheehan, Ryan Yarbrough and Lance Lynn.


First pitch from Dodger Stadium is set for 7:10 p.m. on SportsNet LA.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree.