Preview: Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw Square Off In Battle Of Aces
Preview: Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw Square Off In Battle Of Aces

It’s been tough sledding for the Los Angeles Dodgers through the first two games of their series against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Los Angeles jumped out to a lead in both games, only to blow it, and manager Dave Roberts left to answer

On Thursday, Roberts was questioned for allowing Alex Wood to pitch in the sixth inning after allowing three runs in a shaky fifth. Wood gave up back-to-back base hits with no outs, and was removed in the bottom of the sixth.

Then on Friday, Roberts lifted Ross Stripling after 100 pitches in 7.1 innings with a no-hitter intact in his Major League debut. Of leaving Wood in, Roberts said he believed the southpaw was still throwing with his usual velocity.

As for the Stripling decision, Roberts explained the right-hander was on a pitch limit as he’s yet to have a full season since a 2014 Tommy John surgery. Now the Dodgers hand the ball to Clayton Kershaw for his second start this season.

Kershaw threw seven shutout innings against the San Diego Padres on Opening Day, allowing just one hit and collecting nine strikeouts. The three-time Cy Young Award winner is a lifetime 16-7 with a 1.54 ERA in 30 starts against the Giants, including six complete games and five shutouts.

What’s more, the left-hander has a 9-3 career record with a 1.16 ERA in 14 starts at AT&T Park. Kershaw holds the lowest career ERA against a single opponent (minimum 20 starts) among active pitchers with a 1.54 ERA against the Giants.

Kershaw’s last outing in San Francisco was a complete-game shutout effort in which he held the Giants to one hit and had 13 strikeouts. The win clinched the Dodgers’ third consecutive National League West title.

He’s opposed Saturday afternoon by fellow left-handed ace Madison Bumgarner. The 2014 World Series MVP allowed three runs on five hits in five innings of work against the Milwaukee Brewers in his first start of the season.

Bumgarner is 13-7 with a 2.45 ERA in 22 career games (21 starts) against the Dodgers. This marks the eighth time Bumgarner and Kershaw have started against each other; the Giants have won five of the seven meetings.

However, Kershaw (2.12 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 60 strikeouts in 51 innings) has outperformed Bumgarner (2.58 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 46 strikeouts in 45.1 innings) in those starts. With a left-hander on the mound, the Dodgers load their lineup with right-handed hitters.

Kiké Hernandez starts at second base, Charlie Culberson is at shortstop and Trayce Thompson starts in center field. Scott Van Slyke makes a third straight start in left, and figures to have plenty of opportunities with Carl Crawford (back) going on the disabled list.

Elsewhere, A.J. Ellis becomes the first Dodgers catcher to make consecutive starts this season. Ellis is celebrating his 35th birthday on Saturday. Buster Posey is back in the Giants lineup after appearing as pinch-hitter on Friday night. Bumgarner, who is the only pitcher to hit a home run off Kershaw, bats eighth.

Dodgers lineup:

2B: Kiké Hernandez
RF: Yasiel Puig
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
LF: Scott Van Slyke
CF: Trayce Thompson
C: A.J. Ellis
SS: Charlie Culberson
P: Clayton Kershaw

Giants lineup:

CF: Denard Span
LF: Angel Pagan
C: Buster Posey
RF: Hunter Pence
3B: Matt Duffy
1B: Brandon Belt
2B: Kelby Tomlinson
P: Madison Bumgarner
SS: Ehire Adrianza