Preview: Dodgers Send Ace Clayton Kershaw To Mound In Series Opener Against Mets
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers ended a very successful Ohio road trip with an 8-7 win over the Cincinnati Reds Sunday afternoon, completing a season sweep of the Reds in the process. Los Angeles opens a nine-game homestand on a three-game winning streak and 9-1 in their past 10 games.

Yet, the Dodgers find themselves tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks int he National League West standings and one game back of the first-place Colorado Rockies. Los Angeles welcomes the banged-up New York Mets to town for a four-game set.

Clayton Kershaw takes the mound on an extra day of rest. He enters 9-2 with a 2.23 ERA, 3.20 FIP and 0.92 WHIP in 14 starts this season. Kershaw has 105 strikeouts to 16 walks over 97 innings pitched.

He has struggled with the long ball, already having allowed 13 home runs this season, which is only three off matching a career high set in 2012. That could potentially be an issue against the Mets, who rank sixth in the Majors with 100 home runs.

Though, Kershaw has dominated the Mets in his career, going 7-0 with a 1.29 and 0.92 WHIP in 11 starts.

Mets right fielder Jay Bruce is the only player in Monday’s lineup that has had any success off Kershaw in his career. Bruce is hitting just .250 (5-for-20), but has taken Kershaw deep twice.

Perhaps the most dangerous bat in the Mets lineup is Yoenis Cespedes. In the past eight games, Cespedes is 11-for-24 (.458 batting average) with two home runs and six RBIs. He went 4-for-5 with a home run and three runs scored in Sunday’s loss to the Washington Nationals.

Kershaw is opposed by right-hander Zack Wheeler. The 27-year-old, who is pitching in the Majors for the first time since 2014 due to Tommy John surgery, is 3-4 with a 4.48 ERA, 4.36 FIP and 1.46 WHIP in 12 starts. He has struck out 59 and walked 29 in 64.1 innings.

Wheeler has thrived on the road this season, going 1-0 with a 2.76 ERA in five starts away from Citi Field. That’s compared to 2-4 record and 5.91 ERA in seven home starts.

Despite his road success, Wheeler draws a tough task in facing a Dodgers offense that is averaging 6.2 runs in their last 10 games. Justin Turner has been red-hot since coming off the disabled list.

During that eight-game stretch, he is 12-for-28 (.414 batting average) with two home runs, five RBIs and four walks. What’s more, Turner is in the midst of a 13-game hitting streak that predated his stint on the disabled list.

Turner is protected in the Dodgers lineup by rookie Cody Bellinger. He tied an MLB record by hitting 19 home runs in his first 50 career games. Bellinger has seven home runs and 12 RBIs in his last eight games, while hitting .343/.395/1.029 in that span.

The Dodgers did some shuffling in their bullpen, activating Sergio Romo and optioning Josh Fields to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Dodgers lineup:

2B: Chase Utley
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Cody Bellinger
LF: Chris Taylor
CF: Joc Pederson
C: Yasmani Grandal
RF: Kiké Hernandez
P: Clayton Kershaw

Mets lineup:

CF: Michael Conforto
3B: T.J. Rivera
LF: Yoenis Cespedes
RF: Jay Bruce
1B: Wilmer Flores
C: Travis d’Arnaud
SS: Jose Reyes
2B: Gavin Cecchini
P: Zack Wheeler