After an eventful week where the Dodgers only managed to get two wins in series against the Rockies and the Giants, the Boys in Blue take their stagnant offense and beleaguered bullpen to Seattle to play the red-hot Mariners.
Those series were book-ended by wins, with a demoralizing five-game stretch in between where the bullpen blew every single game. And to add insult to injury, it was a different relief pitcher every night. It took extra innings and a three inning scoreless outing by Pedro Baez for the Dodgers to finally get the squad another win.
While the bullpen has been quite disappointing, the starting pitching has not. Hyun-Jin Ryu came off the DL Wednesday and pitched six shutout innings. Clayton Kershaw went eight innings allowing only one run. The starting pitching has kept them right in the game, but the offense just hasn’t been able to get it going, while the bullpen can’t hold the tie or lead. A bad combo.
While it took 12 innings to secure the victory on Wednesday, it may just be the catalyst they need. The Dodgers have been hitting the ball hard, but right at people and not necessarily with people on base. And when runners are on base, they cannot get them in. There have been more stealing of bases this month than previously—perhaps a focus on small ball and getting away from power hitting has led to the lack of offensive production. That tide has to turn at some point.
And so the Dodgers hope to finally put all aspects of the game together in Seattle, against a Mariners team that is 70-52, 4-1/2 games out of first, and 2-1/2 out of a Wild Card spot in a tough AL West division. Los Angeles will avoid seeing their best starter, James Paxton. The Dodgers may be without Yasiel Puig for a game or two, if his suspension for fighting with the Giants’ Nick Hundley is upheld. Puig is appealing, though, so that suspension may be dealt with at a later date.
The Seattle offense is lead by shortstop Jean Segura, slashing .314/.343/.437/.781 with 27 doubles. Nelson Cruz leads the team with 30 home runs. Robinson Cano has just returned from his 80-game suspension for using performance enhancers.
In the first game of the series Friday nights, Walker Buehler will oppose Wade LeBlanc. Buehler is red-hot since coming back from his DL stint, posting a 1.40 ERA over his last three starts. He went seven scoreless in Colorado last weekend. LeBlanc is 7-2 on the season with a 3.80 ERA. The lefty is 6-1 in 12 games at home this season, but overall is 1-7 with a 4.18 ERA in 11 career games against the Dodgers.
Saturday’s game will feature Rich Hill and Erasmo Ramirez. Hill has not given up more than two earned runs in his last five starts. Ramírez is replacing former starter Felix Hernandez in the starting rotation. He had been previously on the DL for three months with a right teres major strain. In his first start back against Houston, he went five scoreless innings, giving up three hits. He is the first right hander the Dodgers will have seen in almost a week.
Sunday’s matinee will be Kershaw going up against Marco Gonzales. Kersh is coming off his best start of the season and has a 3.46 ERA in two career starts against the Mariners. Gonzales, another lefty, is 12-8 on the season with 125 strikeouts. He is 0-3 in his last three outings with a 7.94 ERA.
The Dodgers need to build some momentum soon, as they are now two full games out of first and two 2-1/2 games back of the Wild Card lead. They can’t wait too long or they may find themselves too far back to make up ground in the end.