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2020 Series Preview: Houston Astros @ Los Angeles Dodgers

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The Astros (22-23, 2nd in AL West) get a tough draw as they head to LA to try and salvage the road trip with two against the Dodgers (32-13, 1st in NL West)

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers Quick Notes

The Narrative

The Astros will head to LA to play two against the Dodgers this Saturday and Sunday, a team that holds the best record in baseball at 32-13. To the consternation of the NL West hopefuls, the Dodgers have been exactly as advertised this year and seem on their way to yet another division title.

But things aren’t quite as secure as they have been in the past thanks to a new kid on the block in the NL West. For the first time in a while, the Dodgers have a competitor within striking distance as we head into the final weeks of the season. The Padres are only 3.5 games back and seem capable of dethroning LA, but I wouldn’t exactly bet large amounts of money on it.

The Dodgers were able to continue fending that threat off this week after taking 2 of 3 from the Arizona Diamondbacks, though the snakes made it interesting by taking LA to extras in the first two games. Though they did win that series, LA has not had the best week, losing the 3-game series to the Rockies before that while their pitching staff surrendered 36 runs in just 6 games.

Of course, there is still the underlying storyline of the Dodgers seeking revenge against the Astros for what happened in 2017, so I expect the media will really play up any errant balls or dirty looks. I don’t know how real that will be though since there wasn’t really much happening in the first series at MMP except for one inning where Joe Kelly got mad that the Astros tattled on Alex Cora or something.

The Offense

The Dodgers’ offense remains quite potent, averaging in or close to the top five in almost every offensive category across the league. Former Red Sox Mookie Betts has easily been one of the biggest forces for the Dodgers at the plate, leading the team in home runs (14), hits (50), RBI (33), stolen bases (6) and runs (33). He’s also slashing .301/.381/.602 in 42 games so far this year.

Of course he’s hardly alone with Corey Seager and AJ Pollock both turning in solid performances this season, especially thew former. Seager leads the team in batting average with a .314 mark and has a team best 10 doubles. Astros pitchers will also need to be wary of catcher Will Smith, who has an OPS of 1.028 across 25 games.

The Bullpen

The Dodgers’ pen is still being anchored by closer Kenley Jansen, who has locked down 10 of 11 save opportunities while pitching to a 1.96 ERA in 18.1 innings. This is a welcome sign for Dodgers fans after Jansen spent the last two seasons under performing in comparison to previous years.

Blake Treinen and Caleb Ferguson round out the back end of the pen for the Dodgers with Treinen seemingly second in line for saves if Jansen needs rest. Both are pitching quite well this year, though Treinen has seen the most work of any Dodgers relievers with 20 innings of work. Like Jansen, Treinen is on a bit of a comeback season after having a down year in 2019. That was particularly surprising for him considering that in 2018 he was able to pitch to a 0.78 ERA across 80.1 innings.

Though those are probably the three most trusted pitchers in the Dodgers’ pen when it comes to closing out games, the team has a number of good options to call upon. Lefty Adam Kolarek has only given up a single run in 14 innings while Victor Gonzalez has only surrendered 2 across the same number. Dylan Floro also has a sub-2.00 ERA across 19 IP. Alex Wood, who has traditionally been a starter, has looked good out of the pen for LA as well, but has only pitched 4.1 innings in relief so far.

For those who are curious, the Astros will not see Joe Kelly this series. Boo-boo face was activated off of the IL yesterday, but will now begin serving his suspension for his role in August’s brouhaha at Minute Maid Park. I’m all broken up about it.

The Starters

The Dodger’s rotation is in disarray at this point after placing Walker Buehler on the IL with a blister just hours before Carrot Top lookalike Dustin May left Thursday’s game thanks to a liner off the foot. Thanks to the loss of Buehler, the Dodgers will have a bullpen game on Sunday to try and paper over the spot.

Other than that, the only current Dodgers starter the Astros are expected to face is Julio Urías. The lefty has had trouble stringing together consistent starts and has surrendered four runs in two of his last three. Urías throws hard but fleeting command has always been his bugaboo, so patience may be the ticket against the young pitcher.

For Your Viewing and Listening Pleasure

Game 1: Saturday, September 12th @ 7:07 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM / Dodgers - AM 570 LA Sports, KTNQ 1020, Radio Korea 1540
Watch: Dodgers - SNLA Spanish / FOX

Game 2: Sunday, September 13th @ 7:08 pm CDT
Listen: Astros - KBME 790 AM/94.5 FM HD-2, KTRH 740 AM/99.1 FM HD-2, ESPN Radio, La Ranchera 101.7 FM/850 AM / Dodgers - AM 570 LA Sports, ESPN Radio, KTNQ 1020, Radio Korea 1540
Watch: ESPN

Poll

Who wins this series?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    Astros Sweep 2-0
    (11 votes)
  • 34%
    Series Split 1-1
    (25 votes)
  • 50%
    Dodgers Sweep 2-0
    (37 votes)
73 votes total Vote Now