The Los Angeles Dodgers opened up their series against the Seattle Mariners with a 6-3 win, and now turn their attention to Clayton Kershaw in his return to the mound on Saturday at T-Mobile Park.
Kershaw’s 22nd start of the season is his first since September 5, following a series of updates on the health of the 35-year-old. He was on track to pitch against the Washington Nationals, but the Dodgers opted to provide him with some extra rest.
The route-oriented Kershaw has been dealing with some lingering left shoulder trouble, which has affected his command and noticeably impacted velocity. Kershaw topped out at 89.9 mph on his four-seam fastball against the Nationals, but during his five innings of work, he was clocking in at 2.9 mph lower than his season average.
Despite the perplexing drop in velocity, the Dodgers have maintained about their continued faith in Kershaw’s ability. Aside from the recent medicals, he’s been fantastic, posting a 2.61 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, with 123 strikeouts over 117.1 innings pitched (21 starts).
Kershaw has faced the Mariners four times in his illustrious career, the last coming during the 2020 season. In his four starts, he’s been stellar, logging a 2.33 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, with 38 strikeouts in 27 innings.
He faces a Mariners lineup that heads into Saturday as the fourth-best offense in baseball against southpaws. Their 127 wRC+ ranks third in the American League, however, they possess the worst strikeout rate against lefties in that span.
The Mariners hand the ball to Bryce Miller, who is making his 23rd start of the season. He enters with a 4.05 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 109 strikeouts in 117.2 innings pitched.
Miller has been solid, but in his most recent outing, he allowed five earned runs on nine hits to the Tampa Bay Rays. The 25-year-old displays a mid-90s four-seam fastball as his headline pitch, but faces a Dodgers lineup that has been in the upper-tier among MLB clubs against fastballs.
The Dodgers can clinch the 2023 National League West title with a win on Saturday night. Should they lose, the San Francisco Giants getting swept in a doubleheader with the Colorado Rockies would also wrap up the division.
2B: Mookie Betts
1B: Freddie Freeman
C: Will Smith
3B: Max Muncy
DH: J.D. Martinez
LF: David Peralta
RF: Jason Heyward
CF: James Outman
SS: Miguel Rojas
SS: J.P. Crawford
CF: Julio Rodríguez
DH: Teoscar Hernández
C: Cal Raleigh
3B: Eugenio Suárez
1B: Ty France
RF: Jarred Kelenic
2B: Dylan Moore
LF: Sam Haggerty
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