Dodgers Hope to Light Up Cole in Pittsburgh


Jun 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (9) hits a home run in the fourth inning of the game against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re a fan of professional hitters looking like fools, tonight might be a great game for you.

Two of the best pitchers in baseball go toe-to-toe on Friday night, as Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers (62-46) face Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates (62-44). The Pirates have the best winning percentage of any team that doesn’t play in Missouri and are 36-18 this season at home.

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Cole, a former UCLA Bruin, has turned himself into a bonafide ace in this league. He leads baseball in wins and has the fifth best ERA among qualified starters. He’s pitched against the Dodgers twice in his career, and has won both games despite allowing six runs in 12 innings. He hasn’t faced the Dodgers since last May, where he allowed three runs in six 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium.

Despite being one of the best pitchers in baseball, many Dodgers have had success against Cole in the past. If you remove Alex Wood‘s seven at bats and Zack Greinke‘s two at bats, Dodger players are 11-29 against Cole in the past. Yasiel Puig is 5-6 against him with a pair of doubles, and Andre Ethier is 3-6 against the young righty.

The Pirates will have their work cut out for them, but could pose a tough test for Kershaw and his 37-inning scoreless streak. He’s still eight 2/3 innings away from matching Zack Greinke‘s streak from earlier this season, and barring a CGSO tonight he could pass it at home on Wednesday against the Nats. Kershaw has been nails in his career against the Pirates, posting a 2.38 ERA in eight career starts against the Pirates. In five starts at PNC Park, Kershaw is 1-0 with a 3.14 ERA.

Current Pirates are hitting .228 against Kershaw, but Andrew McCutchen and Chris Stewart have each taken Kershaw deep in the past. McCutchen, one of the best hitters in the game, is 6-19 in his career against Kershaw with two strikeouts and one extra base hit.

Friday night will be the third straight start game that Yasmani Grandal will be behind the plate for Kershaw. It’s the eighth time overall this season, and Kershaw has a 1.59 ERA in 51 innings throwing to Grandal, as opposed to a 2.78 ERA in 14 A.J. Ellis starts.

This is Joc Pederson‘s 14th start hitting eighth, and it’s arguably been his best spot in the lineup this season. In an obviously small sample size, Pederson is slashing .277/.453/.468 with 15 walks and 18 strikeouts when hitting in front of the pitchers’ spot.

First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN for viewers outside of the LA market, and will also be shown on Sportsnet LA.