Reds @ Dodgers May 18, 2024: Mookie sits for the first time as Buehler looks for bounceback start

Dodger Stadium Entrance
Photo: Cody Bashore

The Dodgers took the second game of their four-game set with the Reds behind a trio of homers (welcome back, Jason Heyward) and another strong showing out of the bullpen. James Paxton was fine, as he allowed three runs over six innings. The Michael Grove/Blake Treinen/Daniel Hudson bullpen combo combined to allow one baserunner on an infield single, and the Dodgers didn’t issue a walk in the whole game. Paxton issued 22 walks in 25 2/3 innings in April (including an eight-walk outing against the Padres), but he’s only walked two in 18 2/3 in May and hasn’t walked anyone in his last two starts. Today, the Dodgers look to guarantee at least a series split against the Reds.

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6:10 P.M. Los Angeles
CF Benson (L) DH Ohtani (L)
SS De La Cruz (S) 1B Freeman (L)
DH Ford (L) C Smith
1B Steer RF T. Hernández
C Stephenson CF Pages
RF Fraley (L) 2B Lux (L)
3B Candelario (S) 3B K. Hernández
1B India LF Vargas
LF Hurtubise (L) SS Rojas
P Ashcraft (R) P Buehler (R)

Walker Buehler gets his third start back after a nearly two year absence. It’s been a rough return so far, as he’s allowed six runs in 7 1/3 innings over his two starts. San Diego jumped on Buehler early on Sunday with back-to-back homers in the first. He escaped trouble in the second and had a clean third, but allowed a single, walk and hit-by-pitch with one out in the fourth and was pulled from the game. Ryan Yarbrough allowed one of those runners to score on a groundout, but limited the damage. It didn’t really matter as the Dodgers got absolutely shit on by Yu Darvish. While the results have been bad, Buehler’s velocity seems roughly in line with what it’s been over the last few years. He definitely deserves a bit off runway, but it would be nice to see him get a strong start under his belt.

Graham Ashcraft gets his ninth start of the season. He has a 4.12 ERA/4.71 FIP on the season but has done a bit better at run prevention of late, with a 2.95 ERA over his last four starts. He had back-to-back strong starts against the Rangers and Padres, where he combined to allow one earned run over 12 1/3 innings. His last two starts both came against Arizona and he allowed three runs in each of them. In Cincinnati, those three runs came over five innings. Last time out in Arizona, he allowed three in four innings and allowed a pair of solo homers. Ashcraft saw the Dodgers twice last season and turned in one of his best starts and one of his worst starts of the year. When they squared off in Cincinnati, Ashcraft was fine for two innings but the wheels fell off in the third. He hit two batters before allowing an RBI single, and then issued a walk to load the bases before allowing a two-run single to end his night. In LA, Ashcraft tossed six shutout innings despite only striking two batters out.

Among pitchers with over 100 batted balls against, Ashcraft’s 91.4 MPH average exit velocity is tied for the sixth worst in baseball. He throws a cutter 47 percent of the time overall and 60.9 percent of the time when facing a lefty. Five of the seven homers he’s surrendered have come off the cutter and opponents are slugging .516 off it. He’s thrown a slider 31.2 percent of the time and has had much more success with it. He’s allowing a .106 average and .191 slugging off it (expected numbers .165 and .252, respectfully) and has a 36.5 percent whiff rate. He also mixes in a sinker (19.4 percent) and a change.

Mookie Betts sits for the first time this season after a rough day defensively yesterday. Miguel Vargas makes his Major League return today after a rough 2023 season. He dominated AAA to begin this season, with a 1.019 OPS and more walks (34) than strikeouts (30).


Clayton Kershaw and Bobby Miller each threw bullpens today.

Kershaw reportedly mixed in some offspeed stuff. Miller’s next steps are a sim game and a rehab assignment could come shortly after.


The Dodgers are still listing TBD as tomorrow’s starter. It could depend on how much the bullpen is needed today, but Landon Knack could be the starter. Yoshinobu Yamamoto will start the opener Monday against Arizona.

They could also go with a more-traditional opener scenario. Elieser Hernandez is still on the Major League roster and hasn’t pitched since his bulk appearance Wednesday, so he could be an option as well.


First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 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.