Dodgers Vs. Pirates Game Preview: James Paxton Duels With Paul Skenes

Perhaps feeling the effects of another East Coast road trip, the Los Angeles Dodgers were shut out Tuesday night and now look to avoid a series loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

A bright side for the Dodgers is their current place in the National League West standings. Entering play Wednesday they hold a seven-game lead over the second-place San Diego Padres.

But the Dodgers face a tall task in the middle game of the series at PNC Park as they face rookie Paul Skenes. The 22-year-old blazed through the Minor Leagues, and in his four starts for the Pirates, owns a 2.45 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 30 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched.

Skenes’ triple-digit fastball has been a problem for hitters so far, and his secondary stuff makes him a complete pitcher during his early taste at the Major League level. Over the last 12 innings, Skenes has 12 strikeouts to just two walks.

The Dodgers’ offense went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position against fellow Pirates rookie Jared Jones. Their best bet is to get Skenes in fastball counts, making him come back into the strike zone.

For a lineup that hasn’t been stellar after the fifth spot, the Dodgers need to make Skenes exhaust his entire arsenal while forcing him to throw a lot of pitches to shorten his outing.

The Dodgers counter with James Paxton, who is 5-0 with a 3.29 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and .235 batting average allowed.

Paxton has benefitted from solid run support throughout the season. He’s shown the capability to go towards the upper-90s in pitch count, with six innings being the ceiling for his length.

Paxton faces a Pirates lineup that is middle of the pack against left-handed pitching, coming in with a 102 wRC+ as a team. Their 186 strikeouts in such matchups are second-most in MLB, and even though Paxton is a low strikeout rate pitcher, the door could be open for swing-and-miss.

Although he’s at the bottom of the order, Jack Suwinski is a threat Paxton and the Dodgers need to be mindful of. Suwinski has five home runs in 13 career games against the Dodgers, including one in the series opener.

Dodgers lineup

SS: Mookie Betts
DH: Shohei Ohtani
1B: Freddie Freeman
C: Will Smith
LF: Teoscar Hernández
RF: Jason Heyward
2B: Gavin Lux
CF: Andy Pages
3B: Chris Taylor

Pirates lineup

DH: Andrew McCutchen
LF: Bryan Reynolds
1B: Connor Joe
RF: Edward Olivares
3B: Ke’Bryan Hayes
SS: Nick Gonzales
C: Yasmani Grandal
2B: Jared Triolo
CF: Jack Suwinski

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