This is the third time Smith has started at DH this season for the Dodgers, and the second time when Austin Barnes is catching Clayton Kershaw. This series marks the final two games of the regular season that the Dodgers will get to use the designated hitter, with their ninth and 10th games in American League parks in 2021.
Dodgers DHs haven’t been terribly productive so far this season, with no home runs while hitting .281 (9-for-32) with a .344 slugging percentage. Most of that production has come from Justin Turner, with two doubles at the position in his three starts — the only extra-base hits by Dodgers DHs this season — and four of the team’s five walks, leading to a .378 on-base percentage.
Smith has three of the four runs batted in at the position this season, all coming on May 8 in Anaheim. He’s also heating up at the plate, reaching base in his last eight starts. This month, Smith is hitting .333/.364/.533 with seven extra-base hits in 17 games.
Mookie Betts is also back in the Dodgers lineup for the first time since Friday. Betts got a planned day off on Saturday, then was a late scratch on Sunday with left shoulder soreness, something Dave Roberts said Betts has been getting treatment on for the last week or so.
Barnes is 3-for-7 with two home runs off Zack Greinke, including in Game 3 of the 2017 NLDS. Barnes this year has three doubles and a home run in his last five games.
“I feel like I have a pretty good ability to not swing at balls. But when you’re hitting the strikes hard, that’s when it’s really good. I’m trying to get a better swing off every time I can,” Barnes said Tuesday. “It’s a constant adjustment, so you just kind of stay with it, and try to get a good feel.”