After a thrilling tenth inning walk-off win fueled by bubbles and Beastmode on Wednesday night, the Dodgers go back out to Chavez Ravine on Thursday looking for their sixth consecutive win and second consecutive series sweep with their ace on the mound. The Dodgers look to wrap up the month of July by sweeping the Atlanta Braves and extending their three-game lead over the Giants in the N.L. West. With blockbuster trades going down to the wire before the deadline approached on Thursday afternoon, the Dodgers did little to change the already strong team which is anchored by Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu in the rotation.
Clayton Kershaw (12-2, 1.76) vs. Julio Teheran (10-6, 2.71)
Clayton Kershaw is well on his way to picking up his third Cy Young Award, and the sensational southpaw continued his 2014 reign of dominance by pitching a three-hit complete game shutout against the hated rival Giants in his last start. Kersh leads the league in ERA (1.76), WHIP (0.81), and he’s seventh in strikeouts (141 in 112 1/3 innings pitched). Kershaw is still looking for his first decision and win against the Braves, but he has a 2.45 career ERA against Atlanta in 4 starts against them. Freddie Freeman has had the most success against Kershaw in the past, and the first baseman has 3 hits with one homerun in 10 plate appearances against Kershaw. Clayton hasn’t lost a game since May 28th versus Cincinnati.
After the loss to the Reds, Kershaw has been downright unhittable. He is 9-0 in his last 10 starts since losing to the Reds, and he has a miniscule 0.94 ERA in 77 innings pitched. He’s halted opposing bats to a .151 batting average with a .398 OPS. He’s struck out 95 batters while only allowing eight walks during the current span of dominance.
Jul 30, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Matt Kemp is doused by a cooler of water by center fielder Yasiel Puig after hitting a walk-off single in the 10th inning against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers defeated the Braves 2-1 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Braves will try to stave off the sweep with Julio Teheran on the mound. The 23-year old right-hander got the win last time out against the Padres. He allowed 3 runs on 9 hits over 6 innings. This will be Teheran’s first career start against the Dodgers. None of the current Dodgers have had more than 3 at-bats against Teheran, but Carl Crawford has hit 2 hits including a homerun and 3 RBIs against Julio in just 2 at-bats.
Call to the Pen
Matt Kemp has been hitting a la 2011 for the Dodgers amidst trade rumors and rumblings coming from his agent Dave Stewart. Kemp went 3-for-4 with a homerun and 2 RBIs including the walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the tenth inning in the Dodgers’ 3-2 victory over the Braves on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. The support of fans has sure been fickle when it comes to Kemp, but I never wavered with my support of Kemp and his value to this team. Although I’m always willing to listen to potential trades which could bolster the team, I maintained that only an elite pitcher akin to David Price (who ended up with the Tigers in an epic trade deadline deal on Thursday) would garner the Dodgers any reasonable return on Kemp in a potential trade during the season. Kemp walked off with the hearts of L.A. last night, and the Dodgers can’t win a World Series without him.
Prediction: Carl Crawford goes deep against Teheran again.
The Dodgers only trade acquisition before the non-waiver deadline, Darwin Barney, was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday. The Dodgers completed their trade with the Cubs by sending Minor League right-handed pitcher Jonathan Martinez to Chicago as the player to be named. The Dodgers host the Cubs for a three-game series starting on Friday.
Six in a row? With Kershaw on the mound, it’s more than doable.