After a tough series with playoff implications over the weekend against Atlanta, the Dodgers were back at it in Miami against another National League East opponent. After a promising start, the pitching crumbled and the offense could not get it going down the stretch to drop the first of three.
Clayton Kershaw took the mound Tuesday night and from the get-go it looked like something was off. His fastball and slider were down 2.7 MPH each from his season average, and from a guy with an injury history already this year, that is not a good sign at all. Despite the drop in velocity, he gave the Dodgers a very good chance to win the game, throwing five innings and only giving up three runs.
The long ball and command is what hurt Kershaw in this one however, giving up two home runs and a season high five walks, while also throwing 84 pitches which is his most since coming off the injured list. With the injury of Tony Gonsolin and legal trouble of Julio Urias already, losing Kershaw in any capacity will be a tough one to swallow down the stretch if he does need to miss time.
The offense continued their lull after an underwhelming performance with runners in scoring position against the Braves in the last series. During the weekend, the lineup went 5-34 with RISP and in game one of this series, nobody on the team had a multi-hit game.
Freddie Freeman and Will Smith each had RBI knocks in the third inning to put the Dodgers ahead, but after the Marlins took the lead back, Chris Taylor was the only player to provide offense. Taylor launched a game-tying solo home run in the seventh to knot the game at three, but after that it seemed like the Dodger players could not put any sort of rally together and went down handily in the eighth and ninth to seal the loss.
The Dodgers are now 83-51 and 13 ½ games up in the National League West.
Here are my three takeaways:
Ryan Yarbrough Gives Up 2 Home Runs in the Eighth
After Kershaw came Ryan Yarbrough who has been pretty solid in his time with the club, but in game one the Marlins took advantage of some balls left over the zone. Yarbrough has never been the overpowering arm that we see often in the big leagues, but instead has used finesse and a change in arm angle to get hitters out. Tuesday night is an indication that location is everything for him and there is always a risk to being a finesse pitcher. He left a few balls out over the plate to two very good hitters in Bryan De La Cruz and Jazz Chisholm and paid for it. I expect to see him come back from this and still be used as a piggyback down the stretch.
Clayton Kershaw Does Not Look Healthy
Coming off of the injured list, there haven’t been many positive words coming from the team and Kershaw himself about his shoulder. In this one, it looked the worst it has all season, and the drop in velocity is concerning for any arm let alone a veteran with a ton of innings on his left arm. There will be quotes that come out from both the team and Clayton to disregard the shoulder as the main root of his slower pitch speeds, but there is obviously something off about it. In my opinion, they should seriously consider shutting his full workload down until the playoffs. I know the competitor in him will not want to hear that, but it is best for the team and the hopefully long playoff run ahead.
Walker Buehler Throws Rehab Start
Walker Buehler is finally close to coming back. After a long road to recovery, Buehler was back on the mound for a rehab stint debuting a new look windup. It seems he has shortened his delivery and quickened his time to the plate, whether that be to accommodate to the new rules or help take the load off of his elbow, we don’t know yet. In any case, Buehler did reach up to 96 MPH on his fastball after initial reports were that he had only built up to 94 in bullpens and sim games. He tossed two perfect innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City and struck out two hitters along the way. If the Dodgers can get him back for October, it will be a major addition to a staff that still needs help.
The Dodgers will send Lance Lynn to the mound to try and get back on track, while the Marlins have yet to announce a starter. First pitch is set for 3:40 PM PST Wednesday.