The Dodgers look to snap a two-game losing streak on Tuesday in the series opener against the Mets at Citi Field in New York. The Dodgers have won six of their last seven games against the Mets in New York and are 8-7 at Citi Field since it opened in 2009.
Josh Beckett gets the call for the Dodgers making his 320th career start, facing rookie Rafael Montero for the Mets in his second start.
Beckett has a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.67 this season (40 strikeouts, 15 walks) but has walked three in each of his last two outings, putting his walk rate on the year at 8.92 percent, a bit above the National League average of 7.85 percent. But Beckett is not alone; 11 different Dodgers pitchers this year have walk rates worse than the league average, including eight at least 10 percent.
A problem for the Dodgers is that the six relief pitcher with the most appearances all have walk rates of 10.5 percent or higher, including Kenley Jansen, who reduced his walk rate down to 6.16 percent last season. The exorbitant walk rate is a cause of concern for general manager Ned Colletti and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, as chronicled by Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles:
“There’s no way to defense a walk,” Colletti said. “Guy puts it in play, you’ve got a chance to catch it. You can’t defense a walk and we’ve walked far too many guys.”
“The percentage of walks has been addressed,” Honeycutt said. “It’s been addressed in terms of focus, preparation and concentration. It’s too high for this group.”
One of the reasons it has been so galling is that it has been so unexpected. Teams with young, hard-throwing relievers often have to accept their share of command issues, but the Dodgers stocked their bullpen with experienced relievers on guaranteed contracts in part so they could avoid worrying about erratic results. With the exception of Jansen and Withrow, none of the Dodgers relievers is younger than 28 and none throws harder than 95 mph.
At 12.26 percent, the Dodgers bullpen has the third-worst walk rate in baseball, ahead of only the Reds (12.31 percent) and White Sox (13.61 percent). The Mets are fourth-worst, at 11.49 percent.
The good news for the Dodgers is that they no longer lead the world in bullpen innings. They have been caught by the Rays, and passed by the White Sox. Jansen and J.P. Howell, who began last week tied for second in the majors in appearances, haven't pitched since last Monday.
Beckett has lasted at least 6⅓ innings in each of his last four starts, and with the return of Hyun-Jin Ryu on Wednesday the Dodgers will have their planned five starting rotation for the first time all season. Perhaps a run or two through that rotation will give the bullpen some rest and help control the control problems by the relievers.
Yasiel Puig's hitting streak may have ended at 16 games on Sunday, but he has reached base (via hit, walk or hit by pitch) in 20 straight games, the longest streak by a Dodger this season.
Adrian Gonzalez has reached base in eight straight games, hitting .323/.400/.452 during that span.
Bobby Abreu has faced Beckett 103 plate appearances in his career. The only one to face Beckett more is Derek Jeter, with 104 PA. Abreu is 15-for-82 with two home runs and 21 walks against Beckett (.183/.350/.293).
Curtis Granderson is 11-for-37 with three home runs, two triples and a double against Beckett (.297/.422/.676). David Wright is 1-for-18 with two walks (.056/.150/.056).
Dodgers pitchers have struck out at least 10 Mets in each of their last seven meetings in New York.
The Dodgers are 145-140 all-time against the Mets in New York.
Time: 4:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA