The best team in baseball will get back on its own turf Friday when the Los Angeles Dodgers open a three-game series against the struggling Colorado Rockies.
Less than two weeks ago, the Rockies-Dodgers series was lining up as a matchup between National League titans, with that perception taking a hit due to Colorado’s recent losing stretch.
While the Dodgers enter the series with a 19-8 record and fresh off a 6-1 road victory against the Seattle Mariners, the Rockies arrive after a 10-8 loss to the Astros that completed a four-game, home-and-home Houston sweep.
After a red-hot start, the Rockies are just 2-9 since Aug. 9, while the Dodgers come back to Los Angeles, where they are 8-5 this season. The Rockies are riding their longest losing streak of the season, four games.
As expected, the Dodgers have shown an exceptional balance of offense and pitching. Los Angeles leads the majors in home runs (50), runs scored (151) and run differential (plus-66). They also are the NL leaders in team ERA (2.72) and WHIP (1.06).
Even with all of that offense, expected Dodgers run producers such as Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Joc Pederson are off to slower-than-expected starts. Bellinger, though, is starting to emerge, homering in each of the past two games, and all three lefty bats went deep in a defeat to the Mariners on Wednesday.
“We’re going to start seeing considerably more right-handed pitching than left-handed pitching, and those are guys we’re counting on,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Thursday. “Muncy, I think, has been trending in the right direction for the last week. … (Bellinger) has to continue to trust that things are trending in the right way.”
Friday’s game will be a duel between right-handers looking to turn a corner. The Rockies’ Jon Gray is 1-2 with a 5.74 ERA in five starts, while the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler is 0-0 with a 5.21 ERA in four outings.
“There is a part of my mind that knows this is a very important game,” Gray said. “This series is not only worth three (games), but it’s the same division so there is a lot behind this (first) game. Nothing will change about that. I will still compete just as hard as any other game, if not more. I just want to attack my game plan.”
Gray is coming off his longest outing of the season, when he gave up three runs on three hits in seven innings of an eventual 10-6 victory over the Texas Rangers on Sunday. He is 5-5 lifetime against the Dodgers with a 4.36 ERA over 14 starts. In five outings at Dodger Stadium, he is 1-4 with a 6.35 ERA.
Buehler will enter off his worst outing of the season. He gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits over 4 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. He is 4-2 lifetime against the Rockies with a 4.28 ERA over 15 appearances (11 starts).
Despite losing Wednesday, the Rockies had their offense going. Ryan McMahon had the fifth multi-homer game of his career, Sam Hilliard had a career-high four hits, and Raimel Tapia reached base five times (four walks). Charlie Blackmon went 2-for-5 and is batting .424.
The Rockies will be without infielder/outfielder Chris Owings, who was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a left hamstring strain. The Dodgers placed right-hander Pedro Baez on the IL because of a right groin strain.
–Field Level Media