It seems very unlikely that the Giants will pull it together two more times to tie the worst September record in franchise record and far more likely they will get swept and clinch the worst month in franchise history, and while there’s something wonderful about that idea (it would be impossible to avoid a top to bottom rebuild), there’s something very sad about giving the Dodgers safe passage into the postseason.
The Giants will have laid their below replacement level bodies down in the mud and over the tripwires so that the Dodgers’ white uniform pants never get dirty and their struggles barely registered. The last time the Giants rolled over for a juggernaut it led to the Cubs winning the World Series and forever altering the destiny of the planet. It’s not hard to imagine this Dodgers team struggling a tiny bit to get into the postseason only to go on a big run.
The only “good” news is that the Dodgers have not lost any more than two games in a row this month, following last night’s win, so they’ve been reset to lose to more in a row.
Beat... Beat LA?
Panik is the only player in today’s lineup with an OPS of at least .600 against Kershaw. Nick Hundley is second at .581. It’s, uh... it’s gonna be a long afternoon.
No Dodger has faced Rodríguez before, but as a team, the Dodgers have a .785 OPS against right-handed pitching. They have the #1 wRC+ (114) against right-handed pitching in the National League (#2 in MLB behind the Red Sox). So, there’s that.
26-year old Dereck Rodríguez (6-4, 3.46 FIP) has done everything possible to make himself into the Giants’ most reliable pitcher. He’s been the bright spot in a blight-filled year and certainly given the organization confidence that they won’t be going into next season needing to start completely from scratch.
The “peripheral” stats don’t think he’s quite the ace that the pre-game shows might push him as, but he’s still been a very effective pitcher whom the Giants got basically for free. His past 7 starts have been against mostly good lineups, too. Against St. Louis, Colorado (twice), Atlanta, Arizona, Texas, and Pittsburgh, he’s posted a 2.76 ERA in 42.1 innings, albeit with a 27:15 strikeouts to walk ratio and 33 hits allowed. Solid for sure, but not quite next level. Not yet, anyway.
He’s never faced the Dodgers, so none of these matters mean very much. If he pitches 8 shutout innings, he will be the de facto ace heading into next year. If he falters, we can only assume Ty Blach will be brought in to stop the bleeding.
Clayton Kershaw is, uh,,,,, still Clayton Kershaw (9-5, 3.24 FIP). He’s 30 years old now and his past few seasons have been injury-ridden (he has a bad back), but his Baseball Reference page still has the incredible symmetry it has always had. He’s struck out 151 in 156.1 innings pitched and if that margin holds, this will be only the third time in his career where he hasn’t struck out more batters than innings pitched. Does this mean he’ll strike out at least 13 Giants in five innings today? Yes. Absolutely.
He’s struck out 22 Giants in 21 innings pitched against them this season but he’s also 0-1 (thanks Joe Panik!) with two no decisions. If you don’t know the score by now, he’s 22-10 in his career against the Giants (22-7 against the Rockies, so, it’s not just this team that he dominates) with a 1.58 ERA in 318.1 career innings. What’s most impressive about his career totals against this team is that he’s faced 1,195 Giants batters (more than any other team), pitched 70 more innings against the Giants than the next team (the Rockies), and has an 0.839 WHIP. That’s the fifth-best against all other opponents (it’s 0.603 in 58 innings combined against the Yankees, Tigers, Rays, and Royals), but #1 in terms of innings.
Kershaw hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his last seven starts, but has also gone past the 100-pitch mark just once. If the Giants can keep it close through six innings but somehow drive up Kershaw’s pitch count — hahahahaha who are we kidding?