Series Preview: Dodgers Prepare for Showdown with Cardinals in St. Louis

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What was once anticipated to be the most difficult leg of the current road trip has now turned into the most critical. With 16 games remaining on their regular season schedule, the Dodgers begin a four-game series against the Cardinals on Thursday evening, which could conceivably dictate the direction of both clubs in the postseason.

As it stands now, the Dodgers trail Colorado in the NL West by 1-1/2 games, despite losing two of three to an overachieving Reds squad earlier in the week. The Rockies, who are finishing up a four-game series of their own against the Diamondbacks on Thursday afternoon, have won eight of their last 11 contests and will gear up for three games against the Giants in San Francisco beginning on Friday.

Alongside the Brewers, the Cardinals at one point had a stronghold on a Wild Card berth, but mediocre play by St. Louis has allowed the Dodgers to crawl back within two full games of the second Wild Card spot. Over their last 11 games, the Red Birds have gone just 5-6, although they did sweep the Dodgers three weeks ago at Dodger Stadium in a series that had a bit of a playoff flavor.

If the Dodgers are on the winning-end of this weekend’s series, and if the Rockies somehow falter in San Fran, the Dodgers will be in a much better position as at least a handful of other clubs continue to jockey for playoff spots. If the opposite holds true, the road will certainly become much more difficult, if not highly improbable.

Los Angeles decided to throw a bullpen game in the finale against Cincinnati on Wednesday, allowing management to bump back staff ace Clayton Kershaw to take the mound in the opener against the Cardinals on Thursday. Kersh will square-off against converted reliever Austin Gomber, who has a 5-0 record with a 2.93 ERA over eight starts. He threw five innings and gave up two runs on five hits and four walks while registering the victory at Dodger Stadium back on August 20. Being that Gomber throws southpaw, fans of the Dodgers can probably expect a “creative” lineup from the behind-the-scenes folks doing the mathematical work for Los Angeles these days.

The second game on Friday will see a re-match of the two right-handed youngsters, Walker Buehler and Jack Flaherty. Back on August 22, Flaherty tossed six fantastic innings of one-hit ball while striking out 10 Dodger batters. His only mistake came on a long ball off the bat of Joc Pederson in the sixth inning. In the end, Kenley Jansen took the loss for the Dodgers after surrendering a two-run homer to shortstop Paul DeJong in the top of the ninth. Buehler was impressive in his own right, throwing seven solid innings of shutout ball. He allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out nine.

Saturday’s game will see veteran southpaw Rich Hill face St. Louis righty John Gant. The 26-year-old Gant, another converted reliever, is 7-5 on the year with a 3.16 ERA and 86 strikeouts alongside 47 walks over 102-2/3 innings. Hill has been mediocre at best over his last three starts, having given up 11 runs on 17 hits, four of which were home runs. But, thanks to an offense which produced 21 runs over those three starts, Hill was able to register two victories.

Lefty Alex Wood, who was originally scheduled to oppose veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright in the finale on Sunday, was bumped from the rotation due to his recent poor performances. Skipper Dave Roberts told reporters that Ross Stripling and Hyun-Jin Ryu are the candidates to replace Wood in the rotation. Stripling started the bullpen game and went 3-1/3 innings on Wednesday, but believes he should be fresh for Sunday’s showdown.

“I should be fine by Sunday,” Stripling told reporters after Wednesday’s 8-1 victory. “I’ll be ready—Sunday Night Baseball.”

As far as start times go, Thursday’s opener is set for a 4:15 p.m. Los Angeles time first pitch. Friday’s game will begin at 5:15 p.m., while Saturday’s game will start at 10:05 a.m. Sunday’s finale will be a national broadcast televised by ESPN and is slated for a 5:05 p.m. start time.

 

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17 thoughts on “Series Preview: Dodgers Prepare for Showdown with Cardinals in St. Louis

  1. It’s so or die this weekend I’m afraid. I just don’t have much confidence in this team. As for Alex Wood I think it’s time they put him in the bullpen in hopes he can be of some help down there. I would piggy back Stripling and Urias the rest of the way when we need a 5th starter. Let one go the first 3 innings and the other go the next 3.

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    1. I have more confidence in Stripling at this point than in Urias. After going about 50 pitches last time out, I think Stripling might be ready for 4 or 5 innings next time out. On the other hand, Urias’ rehab appearances had somewhat mediocre results and he has rarely gone more than an inning or so. Hopefully he continues to get stronger and more effective this month, but I think he needs to be on a fairly short leash for the time being. I agree that it’s “hold your breath” time this weekend. Maybe our offense will finally get in gear, meaning they all do what they’re capable of at the same time. If so, it will be a beautiful thing to watch. If not, …………………………………….. at least we won’t have to watch the Giants win another World Series.

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      1. What if the Giants handle the Rockies this weekend and then handle us the last 3 days of the season? It ain’t over till it’s over. It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future. Boy, I sure miss Yogi.

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  2. For those who are wondering (and I’m sure that’s absolutely no one), bluesince54 and Jeff D. are one and the same commenter. I have no clue why Word Press decided to sub one name for the other all of a sudden, but thought I would mention it.

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      1. Do what you need to on the look and background but make sure that you continue to have that Schlossman guy post as often as possible. He’s pretty good.

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    1. Agreed. Fergie has been a really pleasant surprise this year. Unless they make some trades, I think the rotation will still be too crowded for him next year and he’ll probably spend another year in the pen, but look out 2020! Of course, Ryu almost certainly won’t be back, Kershaw might decide he wants to pitch in Dallas, Hill may have a year-long blister and Wood……………….well, I think it’s just a matter of time before Alex has something serious happen to his arm or shoulder. If all of that happens, Ferguson could definitely be in the rotation next year.

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  3. I like our chances going forward. So do oddsmakers, I think. 538 has us at 56% to make the playoffs. They have the Rockies winning the Division. Snakes are way down their list. Their Team Rating has us as the best team in the NL. Fangraphs has us and the Rockies basically even to make the playoffs, 68%, but they like us 50.5 to 48 to win the West.

    So, things are looking up.

    Of course, that could, and will likely change every day.

    A split in St Louis might be ok, obviously 3 of 4 would be better. After that we buckle up for games in which a split is not ok – 12 games against the Division. Like I said in the previous post, this is why we watch. A pennant race down to the last week of the season. We take care of business against the Division in those last 12 we will be there at the finish line. In the letters of Pleasant Valley High School (where I did my student teaching) graduate Aaron Rodgers – R E L A X. We’re the Dodgers. We got this.

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      1. Roberts has just announced that Stripling is taking Wood’s place in the rotation. Wood to the bullpen. Can’t say I disagree with that.

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      2. Both the D’backs and Rox tend to be streaky. I expect Colorado to go 3-7 in their next 10 games. Of course, life doesn’t always give me what I expect.

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  4. We are currently 12th in relievers ERA at 3.8. We are also 3rd in Blown Saves with 26 (right behind Colorado’s 27). I don’t believe we can allow any more. Jansen has to get his collective sh*t together and get it together fast. And the bullpen must do better than 3.8. We are going to be in a few close games and we just cannot afford to give any of them away.

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    1. I think the Rockies bloated ERA is mostly prior to the past month and ours is greatly inflated by that couple of week period when Kenley first went down and every reliever we threw into a game blew up. That said, Kenley is a coin toss every time he goes into a game now. That’s very scary.

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