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Simulating the Dodgers’ 2020 season: Game 26 vs. Pirates

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Game one of our three-game series against the Pirates in Out of the Park Baseball 21.

From Pete Volk’s Twitch

This is the 21st installment of an ongoing series, where my dad and I will simulate each game on the Dodgers schedule until real Dodger baseball returns. Catch up on the rest of the series here! Thanks all for the comments and support!

Welcome back! After a series win against the Nationals, it’s time for another road trip — this time to Pittsburgh, for a three-game series against the Pirates.

The first game will see Alex Wood (3-0, 1.24 ERA) go up against James Marvel, a 26-year-old righty who went 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA in four starts for the Pirates last season, and was recently called up from AAA Indianapolis (1-1, 3.46 ERA in two starts).

We’ve also made our recent temporary lineup change a little more permanent: Chris Taylor is now our every day left fielder, while Joc Pederson moves to the bench. Gavin Lux also moves up to the second slot in the lineup, while Max Muncy moves to seventh.

It’s time for the game! Watch it here or scroll below to find out what happened. If you want to be notified when we go live with future simulations and chime in with your live feedback and/or input on managerial decisions, follow me on Twitch!

The Pirates took an early lead on back-to-back doubles by Ke’Bryan Hayes and Kevin Kramer in the bottom of the second, but the Dodgers managed to tie it up in the top of the fourth. Justin Turner led off the inning with a single, and Corey Seager singled him to second two batters later. A wild pitch advanced both runners, and then a wild pitch on a third strike scored Turner, advanced Seager to third, and brought Taylor safely to first. The Dodgers weren’t able to make anything more of the opportunity, however, as Will Smith and Muncy struck out to end the inning.

The Pirates took the lead once again in the bottom of the sixth, when pinch hitter Erik Gonzalez singled with the bases loaded and two outs, scoring Gregory Polanco and making it 2-1 Pirates. We replaced Wood at the end of the inning — his day ended with two runs given up in six innings, with eight hits and one walk against four strikeouts.

Pedro Baez pitched a scoreless seventh, but the Dodgers offense was still unable to manage anything against Marvel or the Pirates’ bullpen. In the bottom of the eighth, Blake Treinen gave up a solo home run to Kramer, giving the Pirates a 3-1 lead.

Nick Burdi, who entered the game four for four in save opportunities, came in to pitch the ninth for the Pirates. He struck out Cody Bellinger before giving up a solo home run to Seager, making it 3-2 Pirates. But Burdi settled down and struck out both Taylor and Smith to end the game.

Here’s the box score:

So a loss to the Pirates is worrisome enough under any circumstances, but the manner in which the Dodger offense struggled concerns us. The team struck out 15 times (including Will Smith’s 0-for-4 with four strikeouts day), and seven of the Dodgers’ last nine outs were strikeouts.

Smith’s performance is particularly worrisome. He’s struck out 32 times in 81 plate appearances (compared to 52 in 196 with the Dodgers in 2019), and his power hitting has dipped since the beginning of the season. We’re not making any major changes yet (although Austin Barnes might get some more playing time soon), but we’re doing one thing to start preparing for the future: calling up Keibert Ruiz to AAA Oklahoma City (sending Rocky Gale to AA Tulsa).

Ruiz had a .367/.439/.571 line with Tulsa in 12 games, and we’ll keep an eye on him moving forward in Oklahoma City.

Next time: game two against the Pirates, where Walker Buehler (1-2, 2.05 ERA) returns to the mound after a torn fingernail to face off against Joe Musgrove (3-0, 4.31 ERA). See you then!