Dodgers Padres Game One Preview
By Alex Campos
After a marathon loss yesterday, the Dodgers welcome a division rival to town and welcome back another injured pitcher.
The Dodgers’ bullpen was less than perfect yesterday, the offense couldn’t get a hit with runners in scoring position and the Dodgers lost the series to the Orioles. The Orioles are a very good team, as are the Dodgers. A 14-inning win is a lot more fun than a 14-inning loss, but it’s still just one loss.
The Dodgers begin their final series before a much-needed All-Star break by welcoming the last-place Padres to town. They have a 37-48 record and are 16 games behind the Giants, 10 behind the Dodgers.
For the second time in the last week, the Dodgers welcome back a pitcher that hasn’t thrown a pitch in a major league game in more than a year. Hyun-jin Ryu makes his first start since the 2014 postseason, as he kept suffering setbacks from a shoulder injury and a subsequent surgery last May. He had a few setbacks throughout this season, but has made five straight starts in the minors and threw six innings his last time out.
Reports stated he touched 90 in his last start, but touching 90 isn’t the same as averaging 90. Before the injury, Ryu would average in the 90-92 range in starts, according to Brooks Baseball, so it’s likely he won’t find that velocity for a while, if he ever does. Ryu will likely have to learn to pitch with less velocity than he had in his first two years in the majors, when he was a legit number two/elite number three starter. A shoulder surgery comes with a lot more uncertainty than a Tommy John, so while we would all love for him to come out and look as good as Brandon McCarthy looked in his first start back, that’s probably not very realistic. If Ryu can provide some half-solid innings, we should call it a win this year and hope he can build up his arm strength and stay healthy for next year.
Ryu’s return isn’t exactly coming at the ideal time, because he shouldn’t be expected to throw 5/6 innings out of the gate. The Dodgers’ bullpen has been taxed heavily of late, as they threw a combined 19.2 innings in the three-game set against the Orioles. In game one, Julio Urias failed to get out of the fourth inning. Kenta Maeda went four in game two, and Bud Norris got through the fifth in the finale, but the game went 14 innings. Pedro Baez was the only Dodger reliever not used yesterday, and only two of the eight relievers used threw fewer than 20 pitches. They could use a deep outing in the worst way possible, but the All-Star break literally could not come at a better time.
Drew Pomeranz gets the start for the Padres, and he’s easily been their best pitcher this year. Pomeranz, who was acquired for Yonder Alonso in the offseason, has a 2.65 ERA/3.21 FIP in 16 starts (95 innings). He’s striking out nearly two more batters per nine innings than his previous career high and has been consistent both on the road and at home, where his ERA difference is .02. The lefty has reverse splits (in much fewer ABs against lefties), so this shouldn’t be a game where the Dodgers sit all their lefties.
Chase Utley sits after his six-hit game yesterday. He got a day off on July 2nd, so this was probably more of a matchup thing than anything else. He’s 2-for-3 against Pomeranz this year, but in 48 plate appearances against lefties he’s only hitting .196/.229/.283. At 37, Utley could definitely use days off more often than others, and getting him a day after a 14-inning marathon against a lefty seems like a wise choice.
With such an exerted bullpen, the Dodgers called for a reinforcement, as Carlos Frias is at Dodger Stadium as a long relief option. Frias last pitched on Sunday, throwing 27 pitches in 1.2 innings of relief. Frias has always been a tweener as a reliever and a starter, so adding his arm to the bullpen could add some length and a guy that can eat up multiple innings. Will Venable was DFA’d and Luis Avilan was optioned to make room. The 14-pitcher 11-hitter 15-man roster might not be the best choice, so hopefully the Dodgers offense can stay healthy for literally four days.
As Amanda covered earlier, Corey Seager will participate in the home run derby on Monday. He’s the eighth seed, and will take on Mark Trumbo in the first round. FanGraphs has written many words on the home run derby and whether participating in the even can screw with a players’ swing, but they found that to be a myth. Many believe Joc Pederson‘s horrible second half of last season was caused by the derby, but Joc had a .159/.266/.304 slash in the 20 games before the All-Star break. His slide started well before the derby, so don’t assume Seager will be ruined by it.
Next: Three Dodgers Named All-Stars
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PST and will be shown on Sportsnet LA.