Michael Grove made his third start of the season on Saturday night but it was the first time the Los Angeles Dodgers rookie was at full health.
Grove dealt with strep throat in his 2023 debut and was still feeling some effects of it leading up to an outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks. With the right-hander back at full strength, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts predicted Grove would put together a strong performance against the Chicago Cubs.
He did exactly that, allowing just one run and collecting six strikeouts over 5.2 innings. Grove had good command of his fastball but also kept the Cubs off balance with a steady dose of secondary pitches, including a slider that was a focal point during the offseason.
“Just trusting it and the work I’ve put in, I think I’ve been a little hesitant to do that,” Grove said of the slider. “It was just like, ‘Let’s take the training wheels off of it and see how it goes.’
“It was an adjustment we made to lean a little bit more into the slider and try to get these guys off the fastball as much as possible.”
Grove relying on a steady dose of the slider played a part in holding the Cubs to just two hits and two walks. He kept them scoreless until Patrick Wisdom hit a fastball for a solo homer in the fifth inning.
Grove responded by retiring the next three batters but he was not allowed to face Ian Happ for a third time. He gave way to Alex Vesia despite only being at 79 pitches.
“That’s above my pay grade,” Grove quipped when asked if he felt a case could have been made to complete the sixth inning.
Dave Roberts credits Michael Grove
Although James Outman, Miguel Vargas and David Peralta was at the center of the Dodgers rallying in the ninth inning for their walk-off win, manager Dave Roberts mentioned Grove among the key contributors.
“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Michael. First two outings, under the weather and he tried to go out there and put his best foot forward,” Roberts said. “The slider was really good. He managed that lineup and passed the baton.”
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