Don’t look now, but the Dodgers are slowly and steadily climbing their way back up to the .500 mark and to the top of the division. 13-4 over their last 17 games, the Dodgers head into Pittsburgh this week to hopefully continue that climb.
Fresh off 33 runs scored in Colorado, Los Angeles hopes its offense keeps producing and that the starting pitching recovers from the altitude. For their part, the Pirates just lost three of four to the St. Louis Cardinals, almost getting no-hit by Michael Wacha Sunday, finally getting their first hit with one out in the ninth. The Pirates, who once were in first in the NL Central, now sit at 30-29 and fourth in the division, 6.5 games behind first place Milwaukee.
Pittsburgh is in its first season without its hometown hero Andrew McCutchen, who was traded to the San Francisco Giants over the winter. Starling Marte is now roaming center field and is in a bit of a batting slump, hitting .167 in his last seven games. He has been splitting time with rookie Austin Meadows, who was just named NL Rookie of the Month, going .409/.426/.795 with four home runs in 13 games in May. Their offense overall is being lead by another outfielder—left fielder Corey Dickerson is sporting a .313/.347/.455/.837 slash line, with 16 doubles and five home runs.
Tuesday’s game will feature Joe Musgrove and Ross Stripling. The last time the Dodgers faced Musgrove, it was Game 5 of the World Series when he pitched a scoreless 10th inning against them, ultimately picking up the win. The right-hander was included in the trade that sent Gerrit Cole to Houston. In two starts this season, he is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 12 strikeouts. Musgrove also has two hits in three at-bats. For his part, Stripling has been the breakout star of the Dodgers starting rotation. In his last four starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA and 35 strikeouts over 25 innings.
Wednesday will see Trevor Williams going against what at this time, appears to be a bullpen game for the Dodgers. Williams is 5-3 on the year, with a 3.84 ERA with 68 innings pitched in twelve games. He’s allowed 13 runs in his last three games, and only went four innings in a start on May 26. No starter has been named for Los Angeles leading one to believe it will be a game by committee. It is maybe not such a bad thing, as the Dodgers’ bullpen is fresh off being named Bullpen of the Week.
Thursday’s matinee game will be righty Jameson Taillon facing off against rookie Dennis Santana who is getting his first Major League start. Taillon is coming off eight shutout innings against the Cardinals where he only allowed three hits. He has faced the Dodgers twice in his career and has a 9.00 ERA against them. Santana, pressed into service early because of the injuries to the Dodgers’ starting rotation, had a rough first outing in Colorado, appearing in relief for Scott Alexander. He went 3.2 innings, giving up six hits and five runs. He did, however, gather his first major league win, contributing to the cause at the dish with a first pitch double to left field.
The Dodgers have not lost a series since losing two of three to the Marlins in mid-May. If they can take another series win in Pittsburgh, they will finally find themselves at .500, and perhaps even elevate higher in the division standings.