Once again it wasn’t necessarily pretty, but the Dodgers got the job done in Colorado, taking two of three from the Rockies and moving within a half-game of the NL West lead.
Common sense tells you that the Dodgers are the most talented team of the three-horse race for the division. But nothing has made sense so far this season. There are six series with six different teams, for a total of 19 games left in the 2018 regular season. The Dodgers play all their division mates once more, plus this road trip where they face off against Cincinnati for three and St. Louis for four.
The Dodgers were swept by both the Reds in a four game series, and St Louis in three is their previous meetings this season. In the series against the Reds in May, they were not able to muster more than three runs in any game. But that was right before they went on one of their hot streaks after Justin Turner returned to the lineup from his wrist injury. The Cards series saw Kenley Jansen blow two saves on his return from his heart issue in late August.
So, the Dodgers have something to prove, both to themselves and those teams that they will not be pushed over again, especially in the middle of a tight divisional race.
Alex Wood‘s start was pushed back to Monday to open the series, as Dave Roberts thinks he is better suited to pitching in Great American Ball Park as opposed to Coors Field. Since June 16, in 13 starts, Wood is 7-1 with a 2.39 ERA. He struggled with traffic home against the Mets in his last start, but ended up only allowing one run.
He will face off against Cory Reed, a left-hander who has only made three starts so far this season. Reed has a 4.81 ERA, and the Reds are 0-14 in games that he’s started lifetime. But this is exactly the type of pitcher Dodger hitting has struggled against this season. The guy who isn’t supposed to be so great ends up dominating LA’s lineup.
Tuesday’s matchup will see Hyun-Jin Ryu return to the mound after one of the strangest and most frustrating games of the season, and that’s saying a lot. He gave up 10 hits over six innings, but almost all were soft bloopers that either just fell in the right place, or the Dodger defense just couldn’t somehow make the play. The average exit velocity for balls off the Mets’ bats was around 78mph.
The Reds will counter with righty Luis Castillo who allowed a career high three home runs in five innings against the Padres last Thursday. He struck out eight Dodger batters when he faced them in May, when he was 2-4 with a 6.47 ERA, securing the sweep for the Reds.
Wednesday’s matinee game does not yet have a starter named for the Dodgers, and it seems like it will be a bullpen game. Roberts opted to move Clayton Kershaw back a day so he could start in St. Louis, leaving Wednesday without a clear starter. One could assume that Ross Stripling would make the start, and pitch three to four innings to work on getting him stretched out.
Righty Anthony DeSclafani will take the mound for the Reds, and he also has not been good as of late, taken out in or after the fourth inning in each of his last two games. He’s 7-4 on the season with a 4.56 ERA.
Cincinnati will also see the return of Jansen to the bullpen, as he did not travel to Colorado with the team because of his heart issues. He should be well rested and ready to take back the closing job if the Dodgers have a close lead in the late innings.
As we’ve said many, many times this season, now is the time for a nice little hot streak. It should not be a problem for the Dodgers to take two-of-three from Cincinnati, or better. Great American Ball Park is a hitters park, and the offense behind a hot Justin Turner could do some serious damage.