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Dodgers try to get back on track against Brandon Woodruff

Also, May day on May Day

Los Angeles Dodgers v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The first time Dustin May pitches in the majors in May comes on May Day, as the Dodgers try to snap a two-game losing streak on Saturday against the Brewers.

May has fit right in on a starting staff that was excellent in the season’s first month. He’s got 32 strikeouts against only five walks, with a 37.2-percent strikeout rate that ranks ninth among major league pitchers with at least 20 innings. May ranks third on the Dodgers in ERA (2.53) and second in FIP (2.75), on a starting staff that leads the majors in innings (6.07 per start), strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.93), K-BB% (25.1 percent), and ranks fourth in FIP (3.04) and fifth in ERA (2.74).

But pitching hasn’t been the problem for the Dodgers of late. They’ve allowed all of five runs in the first two games of the series, but lost both thanks to an offense that has only managed one run each game.

The Dodgers’ offensive woes stretch back to the second game in San Diego on April 17. In the last 13 games, the club is hitting .177/.298/.295 while averaging 3.15 runs per game. They are 4-9 in those games.

Dodgers-Brewers lineups

Pos Dodgers Pos Brewers
Pos Dodgers Pos Brewers
CF Betts 2B Wong (L)
SS Seager (L) 1B Vogelbach (L)
3B Turner RF Garcia
1B Muncy (L) 3B Shaw (L)
RF Beaty (L) CF Bradley (L)
LF Pollock SS Urías
2B Lux (L) LF McKinney (L)
C Barnes C Maile
P May P Woodruff (L)

“We went through a stretch where our at-bat were really pretty good, and the production wasn’t very good,” said AJ Pollock, whose home run accounted for the Dodgers’ only run on Friday. “Then, I think we’ve kind of gone through a stretch now where, the at-bats aren’t as good, the quality isn’t as good. So we’ve just got to get back to having quality at-bats.”

That’s easier said than done against Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff, who has a 1.55 ERA and 1.66 FIP in five starts this season, with 34 strikeouts and eight walks in 29 innings. He has yet to allow a home run this season.

“We’ve got a tough customer in Woodruff tonight,” Dave Roberts said. “I just want us to take competitive at-bats, and do whatever it takes to win.”

Woodruff struck out nine Dodgers in Game 2 of the wild card series last year at Dodger Stadium, and that game remained scoreless until the fifth inning. Austin Barnes, who singled home the first run of that game, is catching May on Saturday, and Mookie Betts, who doubled home two to chase Woodruff last October, is back in the lineup in center field on Saturday.

Betts, who got a day off Friday after starting the previous eight games, is hitting .213/.324/.344 in his last 15 games dating back to April 13, the day he came back after missing four games with back stiffness.

Betts has shown an openness to regular rest, and not playing while hurt, and by most accounts is now healthy. Roberts said Friday that it was possible Betts developed a mechanical bad habit to compensate for his nagging injuries, though he hasn’t noticed anything specifically.

Sometimes players just slump, but compounding things is that Betts isn’t alone:

  • Max Muncy: 2 for his last 35 (with 14 walks, of course)
  • Gavin Lux: 1 for 15 with 8 strikeouts since return from IL (and 2 for last 36)
  • Justin Turner: 8 for his last 40
  • Corey Seager: 9 for last 51
  • Edwin Ríos: 0 for last 25

Roberts says he has no plans for now to shake up the batting order.

“As an offensive team, I’ve seen it happen pretty quickly. It could be one game, there’s a big hit, and guys exhale,” Roberts said. “The thing for me is I know guys are preparing and grinding, and minding the little things, and valuing the strike zone, trying to pass the baton and get on base, and not be the one person who has to carry the load. I think that’s where offenses and individual players get into problems at times. I don’t see that right now.”

Game info

Teams: Dodgers at Brewers

Location: Miller Park*

Time: 4:10 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network (out of market)