As it stands now, the Dodgers own a 38-35 record and are in sole possession of second place in the National League West, trailing the Diamondbacks by just 2-1/2 games. When considering the number of adjustments the club has made over the first three months of the season due to injuries, that’s not a bad standing by any means. If Los Angeles is able to stay relatively healthy through the summer months into the fall, seemingly, the sky may be the limit in terms of future success.
Skipper Dave Roberts apparently is thinking the same way, as he still remains confident the Dodgers are destined to be a playoff team, recently making a bold statement that his crew will indeed be competing in the 2018 postseason.
“We’re going to be somewhere in October,” Roberts stated at the conclusion of the series against the Cubs. “I can’t speak to who the opponent will be. But we’ll be somewhere.”
In any event, October is a long way off. In the meantime, the Dodgers are grounded in New York, set to face an underachieving Mets club who is 10 games under .500 and 11-1/2 games out of first place in the NL East. The weekend series is a huge opportunity for the Boys in Blue to re-establish the momentum they lost earlier in the week in Chicago.
And speaking of injuries, the Mets are probably for more beat-up than the Dodgers, at least as far as position players go. They’re without a slew of players, most notably Asdrubal Cabrera, who’s day-to-day with elbow problems, outfielder Jay Bruce, who went on the 10-day DL this week with a hip strain, and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who has been out since early June with a quadriceps injury.
Outfielder Juan Lagares, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and relief pitcher AJ Ramos are all gone for the season, while flamethrower Noah Syndergaard and third baseman David Wright are still several weeks away from rejoining the team.
Highlighting the Dodgers injury notes is Clayton Kershaw, who is set for a rehab appearance with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday. If all goes well this weekend, Kersh will presumably join the big league rotation next week, bringing the starting five very close to optimal strength.
As far as matchups go in the opener, lefty Alex Wood will face Zack Wheeler. The right-handed Wheeler has posted an ERA of 4.82 and is 2-5 on the season. He has struck out 72 batters this year and is averaging a 1.39 WHIP. Conversely, Wood has posted a 4.22 ERA with 2 wins, 5 losses and 68 strikeouts. Friday’s first pitch is slated for 4:10 p.m. Los Angeles time.
On Saturday, young lefty Caleb Ferguson will take the hill for the Dodgers in what may be his final start for the interim, assuming Kersh comes away from his rehab appearance unscathed. He’ll face New York ace Jacob deGrom who has registered a microscopic 1.51 ERA over 15 starts this season. Ferguson owns a 7.59 ERA, a 5.53 FIP and a 1.406 WHIP over three starts and just 10-2/3 innings pitched. Saturday’s game will be televised nationally on FOX and is scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. Los Angeles time.
In the finale on Sunday, veteran southpaw Rich Hill will square off against a fellow left-handed vet in Jason Vargas. In his return to the mound last Tuesday against the Cubs, Hill was fantastic, throwing six scoreless innings while striking out six batters and surrendering just three hits and two walks. The 35-year-old Vargas has tallied a 2-6 record this season over nine starts, registering a 8.60 ERA and a 6.54 FIP in the process. Sunday’s affair is scheduled for a 10:10 a.m. Los Angeles start time.
At the conclusion of the finale, the Dodgers will pack their bags and head home to start a 10-game homestand which commences with a four-game set against the Cubs beginning on Monday.