7/30-7/31 Series Preview: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Yankees and the risk of being stuck in the middle
2013 Trade Deadline Eve Open Thread
(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

For the second time this season, baseball’s two biggest payrolls will meet for a quick little two-game set. The Yankees and Dodgers split two games in the Bronx back in May, and now the series moves out west. It was much more fun when Don Mattingly returned to Yankee Stadium, that’s for sure.

What Have They Done Lately?
If the Rays are the hottest team in baseball, the Dodgers are the hottest team in the NL. They’ve won nine of ten games since the All-Star break and 26 of their last 32 games overall. At 56-48 with a +9 run differential, Los Angeles has a nice 2.5-game lead in the NL West.

With an average of 4.0 runs per game and a team 104 wRC+, the Dodgers are a below-average run scoring team and an above-average offensive team. Does that make sense? They hit well but don’t score as many runs as you’d expect. They have some timing issues, evidence by their 85 wRC+ with runners in scoring position. OF Matt Kemp (95 wRC+) is on the DL with an ankle issue and won’t return this series.

Hanley. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
Hanley. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)

The top of manager Don Mattingly’s lineup is where all the fun happens. OF Carl Crawford (117 wRC+) leads off, and he is expected to return to the lineup tonight after being under the weather for a few days. OF Yasiel Puig (185 wRC+) bats second, 1B Adrian Gonzalez (130 wRC+) bats third, and the molten hot SS Hanley Ramirez (210 wRC+) cleans up. He’s been unbelievable after missing the start of the year with thumb and hamstring problems.

OF Andre Ethier (107 wRC+) and the underrated C A.J. Ellis (109 wRC+) provide some nice lineup help from the five and six spots. 3B Juan Uribe (104 wRC+) and 2B Mark Ellis (92 wRC+) round out the rest of the regulars. On the bench, Mattingly has C Tim Federowicz (61 wRC+), UTIL Jerry Hairston Jr. (87 wRC+), UTIL Elian Herrera (38 wRC+ in limited time), and OF Skip Schumaker (96 wRC+). They lack that big power bat for key pinch-hitting spots.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Tuesday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Zack Greinke
Two games against the Dodgers, two former Cy Young Award winners on the mound. Such is life. Greinke, the 2009 AL Cy winner, has a 3.49 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 16 starts this year, including strong walk (2.85 BB/9 and 7.6 BB%) and homer (0.83 HR/9 and 10.2% HR/FB) rates. The 29-year-old’s strikeout (6.89 K/9 and 18.4 K%) and ground ball (44.3%) numbers leave something to be desired though, especially for a guy who signed for close to $150M. Greinke is a true six-pitch pitcher, using three fastballs (low-90s two-seamer, low-90s four-seamer, upper-80s cutter) to set up his three offspeed pitches (mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, mid-70s curveball). The curve and changeup see more time than the slider. Believe it or not, the Yankees have faced Greinke just once in the last five years. They punished him for seven runs in two innings back in 2011.

Kershaw. (Doug Pensinger/Getty)
Kershaw. (Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Wednesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw
For my money, Kershaw is the best pitcher in the world. The he 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner brings a 1.96 ERA (2.50 FIP) into this start, not to mention a gaudy strikeout rate (8.76 K/9 and 25.5 K%), a gaudier walk rate (1.96 BB/9 and 5.7 BB%), an excellent homer rate (0.51 HR/9 and 6.5% HR/FB), and a decent ground ball rate (45.2%). He’s a stud. The 25-year-old (!) Kershaw is basically a three-pitch pitcher, using a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a wipeout mid-80s slider, and a hammer mid-70s curve. All three are legit swing-and-miss pitches. He’ll also throw the rare mid-80s changeup. He’s ridiculous. Kershaw has actually pitched against the Yankees once before, holding them to two runs in seven innings back in 2010. You might remember him breaking a bone in Brett Gardner‘s wrist with a pitch in that game. That was before Kershaw made the leap from promising youngster to dominant ace.

Paco. (Christian Petersen/Getty)
Paco. (Petersen/Getty)

Bullpen Status
After a few rocky weeks in May and June, Mattingly’s bullpen has fallen into place in recently. RHP Kenley Jansen (2.22 FIP) has replaced RHP Brandon League (4.80 FIP) as closer, and the team recently added RHP Carlos Marmol (9.42 FIP) as well. That’s three Proven Closers™, but only one is actually above-average. The other two see mostly low and medium-leverage situations.

LHP Paco Rodriguez (1.07 FIP vs. LHB), a 2012 draft pick, is already a shutdown lefty specialist. LHP J.P. Howell (2.65 FIP) is another strong matchup guy, and the Yankees are familiar with him from his days with the Rays. RHP Ronald Belisario (3.55 FIP) is the guy who did this, and he rounds out the bullpen alongside RHP Chris Withrow (3.31 FIP in limited time). Outside of the lefties, there are some seriously hard throwers in this ‘pen.

Both the Yankees and the Dodgers were off on Monday, so their bullpens are as rested as can be this time of year. Check out our Bullpen Workload page to see who pitched when, then check out Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness and True Blue LA for the latest and greatest on the Dodgers. They’re two of my very favorite team-specific sites on the web.

The Yankees and the risk of being stuck in the middle
2013 Trade Deadline Eve Open Thread
  • Hassey
    • Rick in Philly

      18 years later, I still can’t fathom how the Yankees lost that series.

      • Hassey

        Our pitching sucked and looked even worse vs the Ms monsters

      • WhittakerWalt

        Edgar Martinez.

    • art vandelay

      ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hang on to the roooof !

      such a good home run call

    • Darren

      I was there, and it was fabulous.

      • Hassey

        I was in the upper deck in left and I hugged a man I didn’t know

  • your mom

    I can’t stand Puig.

    • trr

      How come, Mom?

      • your mom

        I like good natured, respectable young men. . . . . . . . not no conceited fucking showboats.

        • trr

          Then you’ll enjoy it when Andy strikes his ass out tonight, I take it?

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Hey, maybe they get their asses handed to them, but you can’d help but look at Kuroda/Kershaw as a damn fun matchup. Reverse lock? Go ahead and tell me they’ve got no chance, and I’ll put my money on the other side any day.

    Also, I’ll be sleeping through about 80% of this.

  • https://twitter.com/KramerIndustry Kramerica Industries

    You might remember him breaking a bone in Brett Gardner‘s wrist with a pitch in that game.

    No, I remember the Yankees coming back from a 6-2 deficit in the 9th inning, tying the game on a FC groundball from Colin Curtis (!) and then Robbie Cano winning the game with a two-run HR against George Sherrill in the 10th.

    Related to that, I also remember this for being the game where Joe Torre broke Jonathan Broxton. His Dodger tenure took a severe turn for the worse beginning with this game. Look it up.

    • nsalem

      48 pitches following a 19 pitch appearance the night before.

  • Sal

    For my money, Kuroda is the best now.

  • trr

    Don’t know if I’ll make thru the whole game tonight; I guess I’d be OK with a split. Hope Andy gets thru the 1st with no runs!

  • Kosmo

    Dodgers make the WS in 2013 ? My guess is they do.

  • WhittakerWalt

    That must be neat, having a catcher who could hit.

  • WhittakerWalt

    I only like Gary Thorne when he’s calling postseason Yankee home runs.

    • gc

      His call on the O’Neill home run in that same game was a classic.

      • WhittakerWalt

        Paulie really crushed it.

  • Eddard

    The good news is that they don’t really lose much offense by having the pitcher hit. They need a split. Andy might be able to turn it around against an NL offense. If CC can’t turn it around on this trip against the Padres and White Sox then he’ll never turn it around this season.

    • your mom

      I don’t know CC’s record against the White Sox but I do know it’s never an easy series there in South Chicago. At least they don’t have that asshole cather on their team anymore.

  • A-Rod’s Quad

    Hi guys, long time no see. Just wanted to say, I love L.A.!!

    Wish I could’ve been there this series, but I just do what my boss tells me, and he just does what his boss tell him.

    Too bad, I would’ve loved to hang out with Lemmy at the Rainbow, maybe catch some waves, work out at Gold’s Gym, get dog from Pink’s.

    Oh well, stuck here in Tampa! Another boring week. Gonna do some squats, ask my owner to rub some icy hot on my inner me.

    Love that the West Coast game tonight is the Yankees!