Monday is quite the day for fans of the Dodgers. As with every April 15th, it is Jackie Robinson Day across the league, in celebration of the first day the color barrier was broken by Jackie while wearing a Brooklyn Dodger uniform.
Monday also will the first time that Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the Dodgers, after starting the season on the injured list dealing with shoulder inflammation. His last rehab outing was five days ago for the Tulsa Drillers. He pitched 6.0 innings, allowing five hits—two of which were solo home runs—six strikeouts and no walks.
It will be interesting to watch Kershaw tonight and the rest of the season to see how he deals with his diminished velocity. His fastball sat between 88-90 MPH in Tulsa. Last year, he averaged 91 MPH, but he isn’t quite to full strength yet this season. The fact he went six innings was good, as Dodgers starters have yet to get deep into games, save for Ross Stripling on Sunday who threw eight innings of one run ball.
And then perhaps the most intriguing thing to happen Monday night at Chavez Ravine will be the return of Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Kyle Farmer. (Alex Wood, also included in the trade with Cincinnati, is currently on the IL and the Dodgers will not face him).
Andy McCullough of The Los Angeles Times had an article out yesterday that basically said that Puig might’ve been a big key to the Dodgers losing Game 2 of the 2017 World Series. He would routinely not pay attention to the positioning cards and was out of place and ended up not getting to a ball off the bat of Alex Bregman, that instead went for a ground rule double.
2017 was the year the Dodgers should have won it all. Of course, that play alone didn’t decide that World Series. But that knowledge now of where Puig wasn’t, is sure to help some Dodgers fans get over their missing the Wild Horse. Unfortunately, that is what you get with Puig—purposeful and incidental lapses in judgement, a moody and immature player, along with the incredible arm, the tongue wags, the pure joy of bat flips and cheering his teammates on.
I think all Dodgers fans wanted Puig to reach his full potential as a Dodger. But the breakup was inevitable, and as it seems, necessary.
None of the former Dodgers are off to a very good start in Cincinnati. Puig has a .163 batting average, and just hit his first home run of the season Sunday. Matt Kemp leads the team with 14 strikeouts. Kyle Farmer has two homers but has an abysmal .154 batting average.
The Reds currently sit at 5-9, but their pitching has been what has helped get their wins. The offense overall is anemic, with not one player batting over .300. However, Sonny Gray has the highest ERA of the starters the Dodgers will face, at 2.02. Monday’s starter Luis Castillo has a 0.92 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched, with 25 strikeouts. Tuesday’s starter Tyler Mahle has gone 11 innings over two games, only allowing one run and striking out 12. And Gray, who will go on Wednesday, has only allowed three runs over 13 innings.
The Dodgers will counter with Kershaw Monday, Kenta Maeda on Tuesday, and Wednesday’s starter is currently to be determined.