The best offense in baseball up against Noah Syndergaard turned out about how you’d expect, with the Rays (38-15) winning the first game of the series by a score of 9-3. After a red-hot stretch, the Dodgers (31-21) are now just 4-6 in their last ten games. The team will look to bounce back today behind Clayton Kershaw, up against the right-handed Tyler Glasnow who’ll be making his season debut.
|1:10 PM||Tampa Bay|
|1B||Freeman (L)||SS||Franco (S)|
|LF||Peralta (L)||2B||Walls (S)|
|P||Kershaw (L)||P||Glasnow (R)|
The only difference in the lineup the Dodgers make from yesterday, is Jason Heyward starting in center field over James Outman. Outman has been going through a tough stretch, and the overpowering Glasnow seems like a bad matchup for a struggling hitter. The top four batters in the lineup managed a solid performance yesterday, with Mookie Betts reaching twice, Freddie Freeman continuing his hot streak with two hits and a walk, Will Smith going 2-3 with a walk, and J.D. Martinez adding two hits as well. Besides those four there was hardly any production, and the team went 3-14 with runners in scoring position. That won’t work against any team, let alone the best team in baseball.
For the Rays, Isaac Paredes, Harold Ramirez, and Manuel Margot will all start against the left-handed Kershaw, as both Josh Lowe and Brandon Lowe sit, as does former Dodger Luke Raley. Ramírez has a 186 wRC+ and 1.020 OPS against LHP, Paredes 146 and .850, and Margot 109 and .766. Kershaw will have to be sharp as the Rays have hit left-handed pitching this year at an absolutely insane level. This year they feature a 168 wRC+ and .962 OPS against LHP. For example, Paul Goldschmidt had a 177 wRC+ last season in his MVP campaign, and Mike Trout has a career 171 wRC+.
The Dodgers have a very good offense. The top four in the lineup all have an OPS north of .870 and wRC+ above 134. That’s excluding the struggling Max Muncy and Outman, both also with an OPS over .800. Miguel Rojas has a 70 wRC+ with a .261/.292/.326 slash with just four strikeouts over his last two weeks and 48 plate appearances. After a slow start, that’s about what you’re hoping for from him and he’s been stellar in the field, something the Dodgers haven’t had at shortstop in quite some time.
Glasnow is making his season debut, but here’s how Kershaw has fared in his 2023 campaign.
Even in his sixteenth year and at 35 years-old, Kershaw is still pitching at an extremely high level. He’s produced an impressive 2.98 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 69 strikeouts over 57.1 innings in 10 starts this season. He wasn’t very sharp in his last outing, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks over 3.2 innings against St. Louis. The Cardinals offense has been strong as of late, but his command was lacking and it resulted in an abbreviated lackluster start.
Glasnow covered six innings and struck out six while allowing an earned run on two hits and two walks Sunday in his rehab start in Triple-A. Making the fourth start of his rehab assignment, Glasnow built up to 67 pitches and once again looked sharp during his time on the mound. The hard-throwing right-hander has been on the shelf all season with a left oblique strain, additionally building back up from Tommy John surgery in August of 2021. He made two starts late last season, one in the end of September and one in the beginning of October. Timeline wise that could theoretically put Walker Buehler in line to return at a similar time of the season as Glasnow did last year, but that is likely just wishful thinking.
Glasnow was traded to the Rays in 2018, and has been a dominant presence in their rotation when healthy. He’s thrown just 212.2 innings over the last four seasons, so while I’d prefer the Dodgers win today, I do also hope that Glasnow can remain healthy. He has 300 strikeouts in those 212.2 innings, with a total of 6.1 fWAR. His best seasons were a 1.78 ERA over 60.2 innings in 2019, and a 2.66 ERA in 88.0 innings in 2021. Historically, Glasnow has thrown a high spin, high 90’s fastball roughly 50-60% of the time, mixing in a low 90’s slider as his primary off-speed pitch, and a mid 80’s curveball as his secondary off-speed pitch. I don’t know how he’s looked in Triple-A, but I’d assume the 6’8 Glasnow will be as dangerous as ever and the Dodgers will have to be ready.
In other news,
After lighting up Double-A last year and this year, Jonny DeLuca has been off to hot start in Triple-A as well. He’s up to a 1.021 OPS with seven extra-base hits in ten games. I can’t imagine he’s going to stay down in Triple-A much longer.
Fabian always writes good stuff, and this is pretty much what you’d expect. Noah Syndergaard has been bad, and the team has an injured starting rotation and is relying on two rookies. Naturally that’s something that might be addressed at the trade deadline. They also haven’t gotten a ton of value at shortstop despite what Rojas brings defensively, and they still have an issue against left-handed pitching. It’s all something that could be addressed in the trade market, so we’ll get an idea of how that’s looking closer to the All-Star Break.
Not sure if this is concerning or not yet, but hopefully Julio Urias is back soon.
Update – it is slightly concerning, meaning Bobby Miller will be around a bit longer at the very least.
First pitch is at 1:10 PM PT on SNLA.