Freeway Series Preview: Dodgers Have Chance To Sweep Angels; Alex Vesia Starts As Opener

The Los Angeles Dodgers look to finish off the unofficial first half of their schedule with a Freeway Series sweep of the Los Angeles Angels that would put them on a four-game winning streak heading into the All-Star break.

The Dodgers are 9-0 in their last nine games against the Angels, which is their longest winning streak in Freeway Series history. Prior to the current stretch, the Dodgers won eight in a row in their head-to-head matchups from August 5, 2014-September 8, 2015.

A win on Saturday would give the Dodgers a season sweep of the four-game Freeway Series.

Despite indications that Michael Grove would start the Dodgers’ final game before having nearly a week off, they instead are utilizing Alex Vesia as an opener.

It marks a third consecutive day pitching for Vesia, who was recalled Thursday as the corresponding move to the Dodgers placing Yency Almonte on the paternity list.

Vesia recorded a save in the series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates, then struck out Shohei Ohtani on just three pitches Friday night.

“Confidence,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts answered when asked what is different for the left-hander since getting recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

“I think he’s been accountable to being better, being consistent. When he got sent down, to have a clear idea of what he wants to work on and get better at. The handful of times over the last couple of years, he’s come back better.

“So hopefully he continues to throw the baseball with conviction, with confidence, and we get these same results. We put him in a tough spot tonight and he got arguably the best hitter in baseball out. That was a big spot.”

Grove is expected to follow Vesia and pitch the bulk of the game. It’s a second time this season Grove has followed an opener and his third time pitching out of the bullpen.

The Angels counter with Reid Detmers, who is 2-5 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.25 WHIP over 15 starts this season. Detmers tossed seven shutout innings and held the Dodgers to just two hits while collecting eight strikeouts in a tough-luck loss in Anaheim.

Because the Angels have a southpaw on the mound, Mookie Betts is back out in right field and Miguel Vargas starts at second base. The Dodgers continue to evaluate Vargas’ play and potentially optioning him to the Minors amid his ongoing struggles.

Dodgers lineup

RF: Mookie Betts
1B: Freddie Freeman
C: Will Smith
DH: J.D. Martinez
3B: Max Muncy
SS: Miguel Rojas
2B: Miguel Vargas
CF: James Outman
LF: Jonny DeLuca

Angels lineup

DH: Shohei Ohtani
RF: Hunter Renfroe
CF: Mickey Moniak
LF: Jo Adell
1B: Mike Moustakas
3B: Eduardo Escobar
C: Matt Thaiss
2B: Luis Rengifo
SS: Andrew Velazquez

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