Giants @ Dodgers April 1, 2024: Paxton makes his Dodger debut as Giants come to town

The Dodgers looked dead in the water for most of last night’s finale against the Cardinals, but a three-run eighth propelled them to a 5-4 win and a series win over St. Louis. Gavin Stone looked pretty impressive before running into some trouble in the middle innings, but newly called up Nabil Crismatt played the hero with two scoreless frames to keep the Dodgers in it long enough for a Max Muncy bat-drop.

Today, the Dodgers welcome the new-look Giants to town for their first meeting of the season. The Giants finished under .500 last season, but arguably had the best offseason of all teams that didn’t sign Shohei Ohtani. They split a four-game series in San Diego, as they dropped the opener but won the next two. They got walloped in the finale yesterday and look to bounce back in their first look at the Dodgers in 2024.

Image
7:10 P.M. Los Angeles
CF Lee (L) SS Betts
RF Slater DH Ohtani (L)
DH Soler 1B Freeman (L)
3B Chapman C Smith
C Murphy 3B Muncy (L)
2B Estrada RF Hern√°ndez, T.
LF Conforto (L) CF Outman (L)
SS Ahmed LF Taylor
1B Fitzgerald 2B Lux (L)
P Winn (R) P Paxton (L)

James Paxton makes his Dodger debut tonight in his first start as a member of a National League team. Paxton played in the AL for 10 years, splitting time between the Mariners, Yankees and Red Sox before signing a one-year deal with LA. Paxton has only thrown 117 2/3 innings total over the last four seasons due to a number of injuries. He only threw 20 1/3 innings in the Covid-shortened 2020 seasons due to a flexor strain, 1 1/3 innings in 2021 before needing Tommy John, missed all of 2022 with the Tommy John and a lat tear he suffered on his rehab assignment and missed the beginning of the 2023 season with a hamstring injury. He did throw 96 innings last season, but had some lingering knee issues that eventually shut his season down in September.

When Paxton’s been healthy, he’s been pretty good throughout his career. In his last somewhat fully-healthy season (2019), Paxton had the 13th-highest strikeout rate among pitchers with >150 innings pitched. Slightly cheating with how short his last three seasons were, but he’s had more strikeouts than innings pitched every year since 2016. He posted a sub-4.00 ERA in each of his first seven seasons before the injuries started piling up. His injured seasons have been a bit rough, but he has still shown some promise. He was the AL Pitcher of the Month last June, when he threw 31 innings over five starts and allowed only six runs and a .482 OPS against him. It’s hard to read that much into his limited sample sized pitch mix, but last season Paxton primarily threw a four-seamer, knuckle curve and cutter (and mixed in a changeup and sinker according to Savant).

Keaton Winn makes his first start for the Giants after making his debut last season. His first eight outings of his career went mostly fine, with a 3.86 ERA/3.66 FIP and .647 OPS against. His final outing of last season came against the Dodgers, and it did not go well for him. He allowed a two run homer to Will Smith in the first, a solo homer to Freddie Freeman in the third and a three run homer to J.D. Martinez in the sixth to end his night. He’d only allowed three homers in his eight starts before that.

In his limited time in the Majors, Winn threw a splitter over half the time. He threw it 55.4 of the time and allowed a .221 average and .347 slugging against it. His four-seamer averaged 96 MPH, but he allowed a .741 slugging against it (with a not-great but better .598 expected slugging against).

The Dodgers used the same lineup in their first four games against right-handed pitching, but change it up today. Jason Heyward is reportedly dealing with some back soreness, and is unavailable today. Teoscar Hernandez slides over to right and Chris Taylor gets the start in left. Heyward is getting imaging done to determine if his soreness is an actual issue.

——

It’s a cold world. Crismatt’s reward for his two shutout innings yesterday was being designated for assignment today. Non-roster invitee Dinelson Lamet was called up.

Lamet somehow finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2020, but hasn’t really been able to sustain success or health over the rest of his career. He pitched in 16 games for the Rockies last season and allowed 33 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings before being released. The Red Sox signed him and he appeared in one game for them, allowing three runs in two innings. He allowed one run in four spring outings (3 2/3 innings).

——

The Dodgers are switching up their rotation a bit.

Tomorrow will be a bullpen game, and will be using bullpen games somewhat regularly to give their guys extra rest. Ryan Yarbrough figures to be a big part of that strategy and will likely pitch tomorrow.

——

First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM 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.