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Dodgers enter a particularly soft part of the schedule

“We feel good about our team,” Dave Roberts said. “Now it’s about going and doing it more than anything.”

Mets v Pirates X Fans

The Dodgers are in the midst of a bit of a lull in their schedule, with their series against the Pirates one of three last-place teams on the slate for the next two weeks.

It’s the second of five straight series against teams with losing records. The first of those opponents beat the Dodgers in two out of three games, though it’s safe to say Atlanta is expected to be much better than their current record this year.

Streakiness has been the norm this season for Los Angeles, following a 13-2 start with a 5-15 stretch. Twelve wins in 13 games followed that malaise, though now the Dodgers have lost seven of their last 11. Inconveniently, that has them in third place in the National League West, though also with the third-best NL record and best run differential in the majors.

Now is as good a time as any to make up some distance in the division, or at the very least rack up several wins. Not that manager Dave Roberts would admit to paying attention to the standings just yet.

“We’re in it. We’re talented. We feel good about our team,” he said last week. “Now it’s about going and doing it more than anything.”

Tuesday night sees the Dodgers playing a Pirates team they have beaten in 17 of their last 19 meetings. Los Angeles has not lost a series to Pittsburgh since 2016, but also hasn’t played them since 2019.

Last year’s regionalized schedule kept the Dodgers playing only teams in the west divisions, plus the Brewers and Braves in the postseason. Which leaves eight teams on the 2021 schedule that the Dodgers have had to re-familiarize themselves with. Here’s how those first series have gone so far this year:

  • vs. Nationals: 3-game sweep
  • vs. Reds: lost 2 of 3
  • at Cubs: lost all 3
  • vs. Marlins: won 2 of 3
  • Cardinals: won 2 of 3

That’s a mixed bag for the Dodgers, which is pretty much how the entire season has gone so far. They face a Pirates team with the second-worst record in the NL, and the worst run differential in the majors (-75).

Dodgers-Pirates schedule

Day Time (PT) Pitchers TV
Day Time (PT) Pitchers TV
Tue 4:05 p.m. Buehler v. Brubaker SNLA
Wed 4:05 p.m. Gonsolin v. Anderson (L) SNLA
Thu 9:35 a.m. Urías (L) v. Keller YouTube
June 8-10 at PNC Park

Pittsburgh has been much better at PNC Park this season, going 13-16 at home while hitting .237/.317/.364 (92 wRC+), compared to 10-19 and .220/.283/.334 (72 wRC+) on the road.

The Pirates have won three of their last four since third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes returned after missing two months with a left wrist strain. The consensus top-15 prospect in MLB before the season, Hayes is 7-for-18 (.389/.421/.722) with a home run, triple, and double since getting activated.

The right-handed Hayes bolsters a formidable quartet at the top of the Pirates lineup, along with lefties Adam Frazier and Colin Moran — the latter back on Sunday after missing a month with a groin strain — plus switch-hitter Bryan Reynolds.

That’s who Walker Buehler will have to contend with, trying to last at least six innings for the 12th time in 12 starts this season. In the last 11 years, the only Dodgers with longer streaks of six-inning starts to open the season are Zack Greinke (all 32 starts in 2015) and Clayton Kershaw (23 straight to start 2019; 16 straight to start 2016).

JT Brubaker, the 27-year-old rookie who debuted in 2020, starts for the Pirates on Tuesday. He’s allowed five runs in four home starts this season, with 20 strikeouts and three walks.

Game info

Teams: Dodgers (34-25) at Pirates (23-35)

Location: PNC Park, Pittsburgh

Time: 4:05 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA