The Dodgers open up a critical series a game ahead of the Giants.
Let’s remain positive about yesterday’s game and remember the Dodgers put up 18 runs on the Reds. Forget Scott Kazmir‘s worst outing of the season and possible neck injury. Or the bullpen being shaky (though it wasn’t really the key guys). Yesterday was a good day and the Dodgers returned home with a one game lead in the West.
It’s tough to call this series super important as the Dodgers will have 36 games remaining after the Giants leave town. If everything goes wrong, they’ll be two games back. If everything goes right, they’ll be four games up. The division won’t be decided on Thursday, but man a series win would be nice here.
The Dodgers send their de facto ace to the hill in game one with Kenta Maeda making his 25th start. Ironically, he has been the healthiest member of the rotation after an offseason of concerns led him to an incentive-heavy contract. Maeda has been healthy and he’s been very good, with a 3.29 ERA/3.67 FIP and 138 K’s in 136 innings. Maeda’s gone at least five innings in all but two starts this year and has gone six or more 13 times. He faced the Giants in April and shoved, tossing seven innings of four hit ball. That game marked the first run Maeda allowed in his MLB career, but the Dodgers won 3-1.
The Giants are coming off a series split against the Mets. An off day yesterday allowed them to align their rotation to throw their top three arms against the Dodgers, starting with Madison Bumgarner today. MadBum could be the frontrunner for the Cy Young award with Clayton Kershaw sidelined, as his 2.25 ERA is the second-lowest in the NL. He’s tied with teammate Johnny Cueto for the NL lead in complete games (four) and has put together the best season of his career. He faced the Dodgers in consecutive starts in April and the Giants lost both games, but he gave up one run in six innings in the first outing.
The Dodgers and their weird lefty lineups. Rob Segedin gets the start in left on what could be the day of his child’s birth.
Enrique Hernandez leads off and starts in center. He hit two homers against Bumgarner back in April. Charlie Culberson starts at second in place of Chase Utley. The Dodgers have yet to announce the corresponding roster move.
In other news, Brett Anderson likely won’t make his scheduled start on Thursday as he’s also suffering from a blister. For pitchers that rely on grip and movement, a blister can really throw things off. I’d bet on Ross Stripling making that start.
Andre Ethier also looks likely to return in September. He’ll start a rehab assignment before doing so. Clayton Kershaw threw his second bullpen and his back is still attached, so he could be inching closer to return.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PST and will be shown on Sportsnet LA.