After completing a 6-0 homestand, the Los Angeles Dodgers begin a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park as both teams have a lot to play for.
The Dodgers, at 94-53, are one game behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West standings. However, they have already clinched a playoff spot as they are 17 games up for the first Wild Card spot.
The Reds, with a 76-71 record, are one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals and tied with the San Diego Padres for the second Wild Card spot.
Cincinnati took two of three games at Dodger Stadium from April 26-28.
The Dodgers have been playing great baseball recently, going 8-2 in their last 10 games while the Reds have been in a bit of a free fall, going 3-7 over that same span.
Walker Buehler takes the mound with a 2.32 ERA and 3.23 FIP in 186 innings this season. He faced the Reds on April 27, pitching 6.1 innings and allowed five runs, which was one of the few blemishes on his season that could earn him the Cy Young Award.
The Reds have a powerful lineup that is hitting .257/.335/.446 with a 107 wRC+ against right-handers, but in the last two weeks, their offense has struggled to a .226/.291/.372 line and 75 wRC+.
They did receive a boost Friday with Jesse Winker returning from the 10-day injured list after missing the past month due to an intercostal strain.
Cincinnati sends Luis Castillo to the mound, who was expected to take another step forward after pitching to a 3.21 ERA and 2.65 FIP in 70 innings last season with some of the best pure stuff in the game, but that has not been the case.
In 170 innings, the 28-year-old has posted a 4.24 ERA and 3.84 FIP, but most concerning about his regression is his strikeout percentage has dropped from 28.9% in his 2019 All-Star season and 30.5% in 2020 to just 23.5% this year.
Despite his struggles, he has shown some more promise in the second half of the season, getting his strikeout percentage back up to 27% and pitching to a 3.61 ERA and 3.61 FIP in 67.1 innings.
Against right-handers this season, the Dodgers are hitting .245/.337/.422 with a 108 wRC+.
In the last two weeks, they are hitting .237/.316/.424 with a 100 wRC+ but their offense has really come alive over the past seven days, batting .261/.351/.469 with a 121 wRC+.
One player to keep an eye on is Joey Votto, the 2010 NL MVP who is having a rebound season at age 38 after two down years. In 116 games, he is hitting .264/.365/.543 with a 136 wRC+ and three wins above replacement.
Although Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Chris Taylor would not go on the IL due to lingering neck trouble, he remains out of the lineup. Gavin Lux was a late scratch due to a right forearm injury and replaced in left field by Matt Beaty.
RF: Mookie Betts
1B: Max Muncy
2B: Trea Turner
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
C: Will Smith
CF: Cody Bellinger
LF: Matt Beaty
P: Walker Buehler
2B: Jonathan India
CF: Jesse Winker
RF: Nick Castellanos
1B: Joey Votto
3B: Mike Moustakas
SS: Kyle Farmer
C: Tucker Barnhart
LF: Max Schrock
P: Luis Castillo
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