The Dodgers almost completed a sweep of the San Diego Padres over the weekend but were thwarted by a walk-off grand slam off the bat of Hunter Renfroe. In just a quick look at the series, taking two-of-three from the Padres, all of which they were down early, was a good weekend in San Diego.
In a closer look, however, it’s not quite so simple. The Dodgers, as stated, had to come back in all three games due to starters giving up early home runs, two of which were off the bat of Manny Machado. But the bullpen was the biggest worry of the weekend. Or more specifically, Joe Kelly and Kenley Jansen.
Kelly has been a disappointment so far this season, especially as one of two of the Dodgers’ biggest offseason signings. In his one appearance in San Diego, he allowed three hits, a walk and three earned runs in 0.1 innings of work. He has a 10.13 ERA on the season. Kelly has shown hints of being a good reliever, but his consistency is horrible at the moment.
Jansen was brought in to close all three games which were all with the Dodgers holding a one run lead at the time. In Sunday’s game, back-to-back bunts followed a leadoff single, and because of some miscommunication, Kenley then had to try to work out of a bases loaded, no-out situation. He almost got out of it, getting two outs before giving up the game winning grand slam.
Kenley has not looked as sharp as he once had, but it would be hard for any reliever to go three straight games of high leverage innings and close them out. Fans would like to blame Dave Roberts, but unless Jansen was not going to be available, you go with your closer. The fact that you needed him three days in a row is more of the issue. The Padres are a improved team and will be giving the Dodgers a fight for the foreseeable future.
There were some great bright spots to the weekend. It appears that Chris Taylor is back. After coming in to the San Diego series with a .162 batting average, Taylor went 7-for-13 with two home runs and four RBI. Corey Seager also looks much better at the plate, hitting two doubles on Sunday. And Max Muncy could be heating up, with two incredible home runs (and bat drops).
The Dodgers now look to take those hot bats home for a much needed nine game home stand. They will start out Monday night against the Atlanta Braves, a team they last saw in the 2018 NLDS. The Braves currently sit at 18-16, second in the NL East begins the Philadelphia Phillies. They are coming off a three game sweep of the Miami Marlins and are 6-4 over their last 10 games.
Tonight’s game will see Walker Buehler facing off against Kevin Gausman. The right hander is 1-2, with a 4.83 ERA. Interestingly, Gausman started Saturday’s game against the Marlins, but was tossed in the second inning for throwing behind Jose Urena. The start before that, he gave up five runs in 5.0 innings against the Colorado Rockies.
Tuesday’s game will see be the best pitching matchup of the series, as the Dodgers send Hyun-Jin Ryu to the mound to go up against the Braves’ best pitcher in Max Fried. The lefty is 4-1 on the season with a 2.11 ERA. He has 33 strikeouts over 38.2 innings and a 0.99 WHIP. In his last outing against the Padres, he only allowed one run over seven innings.
Wednesday night’s finale will be Clayton Kershaw returning to the bump with Mike Foltynewicz going for the Braves. The right-hander has already seen time on the IL this season with an elbow issue. He is 0-1 in only two games and 10.2 innings of work so far, with a 5.06 ERA and only 8 strikeouts.
The Dodgers hope that the bats now all can be hot at the same time, and with this group of starting pitchers, should be able to keep the Braves’ bats quiet, and get good leads and be able to rest their tired bullpen.