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Pitching preview: Dodgers travel to Oakland

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Dustin May will make his season debut on Monday

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers took three out of four against the Rockies to open the season. LA now travels to Oakland where they’ll face the winless Athletics for a three-game series. Here are the pitching probables for the series.

Monday: Dustin May vs. Frankie Montas

Entering spring training, Dustin May being in the starting rotation seemed unikely. However, arguably no other pitcher impressed more than he did during March. He appeared in five games and was excellent for the Dodgers, as his performance earned him the final spot in the starting rotation.

In five outings, May posted a 2.37 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. The most impressive number from May’s spring was his strikeout number. In 19 innings, May struck out 21. He had a two-game stretch in which he struck out 13 hitters in 8 23 innings. This is huge because May has struggled with racking up strikeouts early on in his career. In 90 23 total big-league innings, May only averages 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings. If he’s able to get that number up and between 9-10, May will be ready to take the next step with his career.

A familiar name will be going for Oakland, as Frankie Montas gets the start. He was traded to Oakland in the Rich Hill trade from years ago. After a really solid 2018-2019 run in which Montas went 14-6 with a 3.13 ERA, he really struggled in 2020. In 11 starts last season, he went 3-5 with a 5.60 ERA, 4.74 FIP and 1.50 WHIP. You can make the case that it was a small sample size, but putting up those numbers over 11 starts is never ideal.

Now, when diving into his season last year there was one major takeaway. At home, he was fantastic for Oakland. In six starts he owned a 2.56 ERA and had 35 strikeouts compared to only 11 walks. When he was on the road, it was a different story. In five starts he posted a 10.13 ERA (!!!). He also had a WHIP of 1.97. Yup. It truly was a tale of two sides. Well, he’ll be at home on Monday, which should benefit him to begin the year.

Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 7.94 ERA) vs. Chris Bassitt (0-1, 5.06 ERA)

It wasn’t a great Opening Day for Clayton Kershaw, as he had his worst start of his career to begin the season. Last week in Denver, Kershaw went 5 23 innings and allowed six runs to score on 10 hits. His two strikeouts were the fewest he’s had in a start since June of 2019. This will be his fourth career start in Oakland, a place where he’s had success in his career. In three starts, he’s posted an ERA of 1.71 with a 0.86 WHIP.

Chris Bassitt didn’t have a great Opening Day start last week, but it was a little better than Kershaw’s. In 5 13 innings against the Astros he allowed three runs and issued two walks. Bassitt was fantastic for the Athletics last season, and really has been a solid starter over the last three years. In 2020 he went 5-2 with 2.29 ERA and finished eighth in Cy Young Award voting. Over his last three seasons he’s gone 17-10 with a 3.29 ERA and 127 ERA+.

Much like Montas, Bassitt was exceptional at home last season. In six starts he posted an ERA of 0.72 and had a SO/BB rate of 3.44. On the road things were the complete opposite as his ERA was nearly five.

Wednesday: Trevor Bauer (1-0, 5.68 ERA) vs. Jesus Luzardo (0-1, 9.00 ERA)

Don’t let the ERA fool you, Trevor Bauer was fantastic in his Dodgers debut. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Coors Field and had 10 strikeouts. Then, #Coors happened and before you knew it he allowed four runs. This will be Bauer’s sixth career start in Oakland, a place where he has yet to pick up a victory. He’s 0-3 with a 3.25 ERA.

Jesus Luzardo got roughed up pretty bad against Houston last week, allowing five runs in five innings on eight hits and two home runs. If there was any silver lining to his outing it was the fact he struck out eight batters. For good measure, I thought I should take a look at his home/road splits from last season. Oh, and what do you know, he was fantastic at home and awful on the road. In Oakland in 2020, he went 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. On the road, he was 0-1 with a 8.15 ERA and 1.87 WHIP. Well, looks like the moral of this article is.... these pitchers shove in Oakland.


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