Mother Nature was not on the Dodgers side in this series. After a disappointing opening game, there were two delays and a suspended game due to humid rain storms across Wednesday and Thursday. The Dodgers persevered on the last day of the series, winning games one and two in convincing fashion, 6-1 and 9-3 respectively.
In game one, which was a continuation of Wednesday’s game, Clayton Kershaw looked dominant in his two innings of work before the delay and suspension of play. He had all of his pitches working, and it was arguably his best performance since coming off the injured list. Kershaw struck out four batters and allowed only one hit in his two innings of work. He was able to mix up his pitches well, and he was able to get ahead of hitters in the count. Kiké Hernandez’s two-run double in the first inning, followed by Will Smith’s sacrifice fly, was enough to put the Dodgers on top for good, despite the rain delay and continuation the next day.
In game two, the Dodgers’ bullpen once again came through, allowing only three runs to help the team win. Caleb Ferguson, Ryan Yarbrough, Ryan Pepiot, and Evan Phillips all pitched well, with Pepiot standing out as the best of the bunch. Pepiot came in relief of a shaky Yarbrough and pitched four strong innings, striking out six and allowing only one run. His pitches were electric and dominant, and he looked like a potential ace in the making.
Thursday’s star of the day belonged to none other than Mookie Betts. He went an incredible 5-5 with 2 RBI to lead the Dodger offense and he reached base eight times in nine plate appearances with seven hits and one walk. Freddie Freeman wasn’t too far off either, as he went 3-5 with an RBI of his own in game one and 2-4 in the second game, further boosting his average to .336. Hey, even Michael Busch joined in on the action, hitting his first career home run.
A special shoutout has to go to Kiké Hernandez though. On his birthday Thursday night, he went a combined 4-8 with four RBI and a ninth inning solo home run in game two to seal the deal for the Dodgers. This team keeps stepping up in tough spots and Kiké is a big reason for that. He has been locked in at the plate in his return to the Dodgers and now looks to get revenge on his former team in Boston over the weekend.
The Dodgers are now 78-48, a season high 30 games above .500 and are still 12 games up in the National League West on the now second place Arizona Diamondbacks.
Here are my three takeaways:
Mookie Betts Is On Fire
Mookie Betts is absolutely scorching the baseball right now and looks to be on one of his super hot stretches of play yet again. I am once again going to announce that Betts should definitely be thrown into the MVP conversation based on the totality of his season. Sure he is on yet another dominant stretch, but its the intangibles that make him a legit candidate for Most Valuable Player.
He now leads the favorite Ronald Acuña in fWAR at 7.1 and has just been more valuable to the team than anyone on the Braves. He has played multiple positions at a high level and has shown to be one of the most dangerous offensive players in baseball. The Braves are an excellent team and were supposed to be in the spot they are in now, with a completely stacked lineup even without Acuña. Take Freeman or Betts off of the Dodgers and they are probably fighting for a playoff spot at best. Just look at the actual name of the award and all of this will make sense…
The Ryan’s Have Been Excellent
Ryan Brasier and Ryan Pepiot have been impressive in their time with the Dodger so far, even though they don’t share the same experience this year. Pepiot was activated recently and since then he has been a great addition to a pitching staff that needed some help after Tony Gonsolin was placed on the season ending injured list. As long as Pepiot continues to throw strikes at a high rate, which he has been doing, the results will continue to pay off. Especially since he has looked way more confident and his pitches look like they have much more conviction to them in 2023.
Ryan Brasier has been the best Dodger reliever since late June. I know that is a crazy statement but I have some great numbers to back it up with. Since June 21st, Brasier has posted a 1.03 ERA and Brusdar Graterol is the only other bullpen arm to have a lower ERA at an astounding 0.38. Since being picked up from the Red Sox after a rocky start to the season, it seems like Brasier has gotten better and better and deservingly made his way into high leverage situations. The “Dodger Pitching Lab” has been working wonders.
Mookie Returns to Fenway
While the rain might dampen the mood and the energy in Boston this weekend, it will be a fun homecoming for Mookie Betts. Betts, who was drafted by Boston and subsequently traded in 2020, makes his return to the team where it all started. Let’s not forget that there is a reason the Dodgers went out and got Mookie before winning the World Series in his first year with the team. In 2018, Betts won American League MVP and a World Series with Boston and looked like the poster boy for the Red Sox. After failed negotiations over his next lucrative contract, he was sent to the Dodgers, who gave him a massive deal. I know Mookie downplays the energy that surrounds this topic a good amount, but I know he will have some extra juice going up against his former squad in their home stadium.
Barring any setbacks with the weather, Lance Lynn will take the mound for the Dodgers as the Red Sox haven’t announced a starter yet. First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. PT.