Clayton Kershaw Looks to Return to Dominance in Philly


Clayton Kershaw (2-1, 4.43) vs. Roberto Hernandez (2-1, 3.98)


Gordon 2B

Figgins 3B

Puig RF

Gonzalez 1B

Ethier CF

Crawford LF

Ellis C

Arruebarrena SS

Kershaw P

The Dodgers lost the series finale to the Mets thanks to their own undoing. Poor defense and base running really proved costly, and Chris Perez continues to be awful. Even though there was a lot to be negative about on Thursday night after the 5-3 loss, there was a lot of Puig antics to enjoy. Puig did get doubled up on the base path twice, and once was because he wandered away from the bag when the infield fly rule was in affect. Then there was the diving Superman type catch which still has me re-watching the video highlight. Puig, whether or not he’s always perfect, is extremely fun to watch. Like I’ve said before, if you do not enjoy watching Puig play baseball, you must be dead inside.

May 17, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) sits in the dugout being relieved during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers will begin a three-game series in the City of Brotherly Love on Friday afternoon when they take on the Phillies before heading home. The Phillies sit in last place behind the Mets in the National League East, and this will be the second meeting of the season between the two clubs. The Phillies won three of four during the April series between the teams back at Dodger Stadium. The Phillies are no longer the same threat to the Dodgers like yesteryear, but the Dodgers’ inconsistent offense, woeful defense, and unreliable relief pitching sometimes make themselves their own worst enemy. The key to the series opener will no doubt be Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw’s first game back from missing six weeks with the back injury went very well when he pitched 7 shutout innings against Washington, but in his last two starts Kersh has allowed 10 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings.

Kershaw’s last outing against Arizona was nothing short of disastrous. It reminded me of Game 6 of last year’s NLCS when he was shelled by the Cardinals. A bad Kershaw start doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s real bad. Kersh allowed a mind boggling 7 runs on 6 hits in just 1 2/3 innings which shot his ERA up from 1.74 to 4.43. It was really hard to watch. The southpaw has been merely mortal versus the Phillies in his career, and he has a 1-4 record with a 3.70 ERA against them in 9 starts. He is 1-2 with a 4.40 ERA at Citizens Bank Park in 5 starts, and he has allowed two homeruns there. Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd are hitting .400 and .545 against Kershaw with 6 hits against him each.

The Dodgers haven’t faced Roberto Hernandez, the big right-hander, since he was a Tampa Bay Ray. He has pitched out of relief in his last two outings, allowing no runs and 2 hits in 1 2/3 innings. In his last start against the Mets on May 9th, he pitched 5 innings and allowed 1 run on 6 hits. In his career, he is 0-1 with a 11.25 ERA versus the Dodgers in 1 start. On August 10th of last year, the Dodgers smacked Hernandez around at Dodger Stadium. He allowed 5 runs on 8 hits in 4 innings. Adrian Gonzalez hit a homerun against him in the game. Carl Crawford has seen the most at-bats against Hernandez, and he has 5 hits including 2 doubles and a triple with 3 RBIs against him in 23 plate appearances.

With the Giants playing well and the Rockies in the mix, the Dodgers need to play fundamentally sound baseball and continue to hit well in order to

The last time the Dodgers faced Hernandez they knocked him around for 5 runs at Dodger Stadium in 2013. Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

defend their NL West crown. There will be no dips in the D-backs’ pool in September if the defense keeps erring and the bullpen keeps blowing. While the Dodgers were in a much more dire position at this time last season, things aren’t all rosy so far in 2014. The Dodgers have all the talent in the world, but if they can’t meld good offense with solid pitching and sound defense, then they will be mired in third place. There could be another winning streak around the corner, but then again there could not. Every game counts, and come September, these lost games to teams like the Mets, Marlins, and D-backs could play a factor in the standings.

Prediction: Clayton Kershaw rebounds and returns to dominance while picking up a base hit.

Join us back here after the 4:05 p.m. PT game for all the details on what transpired in the game. Will you be partaking in a Philly cheese steak sandwich during the series?

Go Blue!