So, we meet again.
I have been looking forward to this series for weeks – no, months. Since the Dodgers’ (43-30)took the league by storm to start the season – thanks to a one man show in Matt Kemp – the Giants (40-33) have been playing catch-up to their long-time California rivals.
The last time these two teams met was May 9th, 2012. The Giants lost another rough game by a final score of 6-2. Tim Lincecum gave up four runs in five innings, walking two and striking out eight to take his third loss. The Giants only took one win out of the three-game series and was outscored 16-4 in those gruesome games.
In those three games, the Giants starters were put out in the following order: Barry Zito (lost 9-1), Ryan Vogelsong (pitched a beauty, 2-1 win) and Lincecum (mentioned above, lost 6-2). Now 42 games later, the teams are starting to look a whole lot different.
Here is what Dustin Nosler from over at FeelinKindaBlue had to say about the recent Dodgers’ offensive performances:
“The Dodgers head up to San Francisco for a four-game series with the Giants – and the Dodgers aren’t playing especially well.
Thanks to Athletics’ rookie Derek Norris, the Dodgers still have a three-game lead on the Giants heading into the series. But the Dodgers were swept by the A’s last week and dropped two of three to the Angels over the weekend.
The team has struggled offensively the entire month, due a lot in part to Matt Kemp hitting the disabled list for the second time this season. The Dodgers averaged 4.6 runs per game when Kemp spent his first stint on the DL (May 14 through 28) and were 7-4. However, they’re only averaging 3.7 runs per game in the 22 games Kemp has missed since May 31 and are just 11-11. An 18-15 record without the league’s best player is acceptable, but it’s clear the team needs him back – badly.
Unfortunately for L.A. (and fortunately for the rest of the National League West), he isn’t due back until after the All-Star Break.
Andre Ethier was 6-for-11 with two doubles and a walk in Anaheim this weekend and he’s the only legitimate threat in the Dodgers’ batting order. Dee Gordon, who has struggled in the last week-plus, will leadoff. If Gordon draws a walk, the Dodgers are likely to win. The team is 12-2 when he does. He hasn’t in the last seven games; the Dodgers’ record in that time is 1-6.”
Okay, so good news for the Giants, they are coming in three games behind to a team who is cooling off rather quickly. And they are playing at home, where they are 21-14 this season.
So what about their pitching?
“The Dodgers’ pitching has kept them afloat.”
“In Game 1, the Dodgers sent 22-year-old Nathan Eovaldi to the hill. Eovaldi has taken Ted Lilly’s spot in the rotation due to Lilly’s sore shoulder and has pitched incredibly well – 2.35 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 8.2 H/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 5.9 K/9. But he’s 0-3 in his five starts. Why, you ask? Well, in his 30 2/3 innings, the Dodgers have scored a grand total of three runs. Three. So, that’ll happen.
In Game 2, the Dodgers send the “struggling” Clayton Kershaw to the hill. I say struggling because some folks on Twitter claim Kershaw isn’t pitching as well as he did last season. He hasn’t been that good, but he’s been pretty awesome: 2.73 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 6.9 H/9, 2.2 BB/9, 8.4 K/9, 3.80 K/BB and a 3.24 FIP. Aside from a case of plantar fasciitis and a case of giving up too many home runs (10 this season, 15 all of last season), he’s been great. Kershaw owns a career 6-2 record with a 1.34 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 against ‘Frisco. He’s been even better at AT&T Park: 4-1, 0.45 ERA, 0.83 WHIP and an 8.6 K/9.
In the series finale, a matinee affair, the Dodgers send the enigmatic Chad Billingsley to the bump. Billingsley was staked to a 5-0 lead on Friday night against Anaheim before giving up the lead. The Dodgers eventually lost 8-5. Billingsley does have good career numbers against the Giants: 7-5, 3.28 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and a 7.5 K/9. His two career shutouts have come against the Giants, but neither has come in San Fracisco. Billingsley hasn’t thrown consistently well this season: 4-6, 4.15 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and a 9.3 H/9. However, his FIP (3.78) is actually better than last season’s 3.83. And his .321 BABIP indicates he’s been a little unlucky. The league-average is about .300.
The Dodgers are getting extremely lucky in missing the Giants’ two best pitchers – Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner. Barry Zito goes in the first game, Ryan Vogelsong (who defeated Clayton Kershaw in the last series) in the second and the struggling Tim Lincecum in the third game.
As usual, the series should be low-scoring and competitive. The Giants are playing a lot better than the Dodgers right now, but this is a series the Dodgers need to win. Missing Cain and Bumgarner is fortunate; now they must capitalize on such fortune.”
I agree with Dustin on this. The Giants are throwing out there their three shakiest pitchers: Lincecum, Vogelsong (who, I’ll admit has been awesome this year) and Zito, and they are facing a team hungry for wins without their star player.
More bad news: the Giants are absolutely terrible against Kershaw, Billingsly and all rookie pitchers. It’ll be a tough series for both teams and after a tough loss for the Giants yesterday, let’s hope they start off the big series with a win.
Also, let’s hope we don’t end up seeing headlines on Tuesday morning reading: ”Zito out-dueled by no-name rookie.”
Editor’s note: Dustin Nosler was my boss as the Editor in Chief last year for the State Hornet. He is a hardcore Dodgers fan who knows pretty much everything about their organization. Check out Feelinkindablue.com for great prospect insight and other news for dodger fans. Also, check out the site over there to see what I had to say about the Giants recent success.