Dodgers pitchers have allowed only 31 runs in their last 13 games, including eight games of two runs or less and 10 games giving up no more than three. The challenge comes in facing an Astros offense that, although coming off a sweep, is still potent. Houston was held to two runs in Sunday’s loss to the Rangers, which ended a 16-game stretch of scoring at least four every day.
Even counting Sunday’s game, the Astros since May 6 is hitting .300/.367/.468 as a team, averaging just over six runs per game.
Houston this season is hitting .289/.349/.448 against left-handed pitchers, with a 126 wRC+ that ranks second in the majors against southpaws.
Clayton Kershaw throws with his left hand, which seems relevant to those numbers above. But the series opener is Houston is memorable for the pitching duel between Kershaw and Zack Greinke, as they’ve done once in every odd year since they were teammates.
From 2013-15, Kershaw and Greinke fronted the Dodgers rotation that helmed the first three of eight straight divisional titles. This was peak Kershaw, with two Cy Young Awards, a third-place finish, and an MVP. He had a 1.92 ERA and 53 ERA- that were best in the majors during those three seasons. Greinke wasn’t too far behind him, with a 2.30 ERA and 64 ERA- that ranked second only to Kershaw.
Greinke was second in NL Cy Young voting in 2015, when his 1.66 ERA was the second-lowest by a Dodger, behind only Rube Marquard’s 1.58 during the dead ball era in 1916. Greinke’s 222 ERA+ that year is the best ever by a Dodger. The next two behind him were by Kershaw in in 2014 (197 ERA+) and 2013 (194).
It was quite a duo.
While the animosity between the two teams is definitely palpable, the connection between the 2021 Astros and the 2017 sign-stealing crew consists of only five players currently active — Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, Lance McCullers Jr.
The crowd in Houston will definitely be amped, especially in response to Joe Kelly should he enter either game. The interest in the series is national, with Tuesday’s game broadcast on FS1 and Wednesday on ESPN. But the more anticipated series between the two will be August 3-4 in Los Angeles, when a full Dodger Stadium crowd gets their chance to voice their displeasure at the remnants of World Series past.
Teams: Dodgers (29-18) at Astros (26-21)
Location: Minute Maid Park, Houston
Time: 5:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, FS1