Dodgers Pirates Game Four Preview

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June 21, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Scott Kazmir (29) throws in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
June 21, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Scott Kazmir (29) throws in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Dodgers look to avoid a sweep in Pittsburgh in a Monday morning contest.

No loss ever feels good, but there’s just something more painful about a Clayton Kershaw loss. Kershaw looked about as bad as I can remember him looking over the last calendar year, and still got through six innings and allowed four runs, all of which came in one disastrous inning. The Dodgers clawed their way back into the game and the bullpen was good, but they fell a run short and now sit eight games back in the division.

The Dodgers are tied for the 10th best record in baseball, so while this season has seemed awful, it’s far from over. The Dodgers need to get it together and win some freaking games, but in a two-wild card system, it’s really hard to be out of the race in June. The Pirates, much like the Dodgers, had been underperforming, but they chose an unfortunate time to break out of their slump (right when the Giants leave town/Dodgers come in town), but it happens.

A win today would give the Dodgers a chance to have a winning road trip, with three games in Milwaukee on the horizon. Scott Kazmir gets the ball for the Dodgers and now would be a great time for him to turn around a disappointing season. He’s had his share of fine outings, including last time out against the Nationals. However, it seems like every time he looks like he’s turning it around, he comes back with a clunker. He’s had some pitch count issues of late as he has failed to go more than six innings in three of his last four outings, but he’s at least keeping the Dodgers in the game.

Francisco Liriano gets the start for the Pirates, and after three straight comeback years, he’s been bad in 2016. He leads the NL with 49 walks and has only had one start with fewer than two walks this season. He’s allowed four runs in each of his last two outings and has allowed 15 earned runs in four June starts.

Let’s get weird. Yasiel Puig hits cleanup for the first time in almost a full calendar year. Adrian Gonzalez sits for the second straight game for a little recharge, as he’s been in a huge slump.

A.J. Ellis gets the start today. There were arguments on Twitter about him NOT catching for Kershaw yesterday. Ellis wouldn’t have prevented Kershaw from losing command of all of his pitches last night. Ellis is much better than Yasmani Grandal at hitting lefties, so it makes sense to give him the start in the day game against a lefty as opposed to a night game against a righty. Ellis isn’t going to be around forever, Kershaw eventually has to throw to other catchers. His numbers throwing to Grandal were fine before last night, so we should all accept he had an off night rather than trying to blame someone else.

Chris Taylor gets his first start as a Dodger. He was recalled and took Nick Tepesch‘s roster spot. He’s essentially a slightly-higher-potential version of Charlie Culberson, so while Corey Seager sitting isn’t ideal, Taylor should be a more than suitable backup.

Dodgers seem tight IMO

First pitch is scheduled for 9:35 AM PST and will be shown on Sportsnet LA.

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