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Dodgers Open Second Half In Unfriendly Confines Of St. Louis

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Clayton Kershaw opens the "second half" for the Dodgers tonight.
Clayton Kershaw opens the "second half" for the Dodgers tonight.

Normally when the Dodgers head into St. Louis, home of Baseball's Greatest Fans®, bad things happen. I want to be worried about the fact that the Dodgers haven't won a regular season series in St. Louis since 2003, and the fact that they have lost 17 of their last 21 road games to the Cardinals, again, in the regular season.

But then I think back to the 2009 National League Division Series, and my frown turns into a smile. Vicente Padilla's seven scoreless innings last October at Busch Stadium to close out a sweep over the mighty Cardinals exorcised a lot of demons.

Tonight's series opener provides the pitching matchup of the series, with Clayton Kershaw facing Chris Carpenter. Kershaw has been on fire of late. The main knock on Kershaw has always been his high walk totals, but he is taking steps, no, major leaps to correct this:

  • In his first six starts, over 30 2/3 innings, Kerhsaw walked 24 batters (7.04 per nine innings)
  • In his last twelve starts, over 81 2/3 innings, Kershaw walked 26 batters (2.87 per nine innings)

Over his last six starts, Kershaw has just eight walks and 48 strikeouts. He has two starts in his career in which he didn't walk a batter, and they have both come in his last three outings. Kershaw is turning a corner, folks. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

On the surface, Chris Carpenter is having another typically great year, as he is 9-3 with a 3.29 ERA. But dig a little deeper, and you will see a higher FIP (3.99) and x-FIP (3.80) than he has ever had in a full season in St. Louis. Carpenter has struggled over his last three starts, giving up 15 runs (14 earned) in 16 innings. He is averaging just under seven innings a start, and he has allowed just three runs in his last five regular season starts against the Dodgers, over 36 innings, so he's still the same old formidable Carpenter.

The Sherrill Situation

The thinking behind placing George Sherrill on outright waivers appears to be that, once he passes through unclaimed, the Dodgers will attempt to assign him to the minors to work things out. As someone with five years service time, Sherrill has the right to refuse that assignment and become a free agent. If Sherrill does become a free agent (I had this incorrect yesterday), he does not get paid the remainder of his salary. The relevant section of the Collective Bargaining Agreement is Article XIX A.(2):

(a) The contract of a Player with five or more years of Major League service, not including service while on the Military List (or seven or more years of Major League service, including service while on the Military List), shall not be assigned otherwise than to another Major League Club, without the Player’s written consent.

(c) A Player who elects to become a free agent under this paragraph (2) shall immediately be eligible to negotiate and con-tract with any Club without any restrictions or qualifications. Such Player shall not be entitled to receive termination pay. Such a free agent shall receive transportation and travel expenses in the same manner as he would if he had been unconditionally released except that he shall be limited to receiving travel expenses to his new club if he reports to it directly, provided such expenses are less than to his home city.

For reference, "termination pay" is defined in Article IX:

A Player whose Contract is terminated by a Club during the championship season under paragraph 7(b)(2) of the Uniform Player’s Con-tract for failure to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability shall be entitled to receive termination pay from the Club in an amount equal to the unpaid balance of the full salary stipulated in paragraph 2 of his Contract for that season.

Lineups

Dodgers      Cardinals
SS Furcal 3B Lopez
CF Kemp CF Rasmus
RF Ethier 1B Pujols
LF Manny
LF Holliday
1B Loney RF Craig            
3B Blake                C Molina
C Martin
2B Miles
2B DeWitt P Carpenter
P Kershaw
SS Ryan

To make room for the back-from-DL Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers have placed Reed Johnson on the disabled list with a sore back, per Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles. Johnson last played on July 8, so he would be eligible to return on July 24, when the Dodgers are home to face the Mets.

Notes

  • Since returning from the disabled list on May 25, Rafael Furcal is hitting .346/.386/.562 with 35 runs scored in 39 games.
  • Dodger shortstops (Furcal, Jamey Carroll, and one plate appearance by Nick Green) lead MLB in hits (110), runs (66), batting average (.323), and on-base percentage (.391), and are second in walks (40), OPS (.848) and adjusted OPS (145 sOPS+)
  • James Loney is hitting .447/.512/.605 in July
  • In case you haven't noticed, Coolguy_88888888 has a series of in-depth position-by-position reviews of the Dodgers minor league system. Today he looks at shortstop, but he has also reviewed third base, second base, first base, and catcher so far. 
  • I participated in an SB Nation roundtable chat the last two nights, about the All-Star Game and the baseball season general. Last night's recap is here.

Get your guesses in for Xeifrank's game simulation here.

Game Time: 5:15 p.m.

TV:  KCAL

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