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Dodgers-Astros preview: Walker Buehler’s innings, AJ Pollock’s hot streak, and more

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July’s NL pitcher of the month starts Tuesday night

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The Dodgers host the Astros at Dodger Stadium in one of the most anticipated series of the season, for several reasons. Los Angeles is sending their pitching best to the mound in the two-game series, with Walker Buehler starting the opener on Tuesday and Max Scherzer making his Dodgers debut on Wednesday.

Let’s look at some notes heading into the series opener.

Length needed

The final two games of July for the Dodgers were bullpen games, one planned and one unplanned. So they finished the month with 115⅓ innings from starters — including a pair of planned bulk relief outings from Tony Gonsolin and Josiah Gray after openers — and 114 innings from the bullpen.

Buehler is averaging 6.46 innings per start this season — ranking fourth in the majors — and leads the team in seven-inning starts (nine) and six-inning starts (20).

Off days Monday and Thursday this week allow for more aggressive bullpen use, but the Dodgers could use all the innings they can get from Buehler and Max Scherzer.

Going streaking

AJ Pollock has reached base in each of his last 20 games, the third-longest streak on the Dodgers this season, behind a pair of 22-game on-base streaks from Max Muncy. During Pollock’s 20-game streak, he’s hitting .447/.488/.776 with 10 doubles and five home runs.

The streak began after Pollock struck out in six straight at-bats over two games in Miami. But during the on-base streak, he only struck out 11 times in 84 plate appearances.

A streak ending?

If Mookie Betts starts in right field as expected on Tuesday, after starting at second base on Sunday in his first game off the injured list, a streak will be snapped.

Here’s a list of 2021 Dodgers to start at least 10 straight games at the same position: Max Muncy (first base), Justin Turner (third base), Gavin Lux (second base, shortstop), Corey Seager (shortstop), Chris Taylor (shortstop), Cody Bellinger (center field), Betts (right field), and Billy McKinney, who started the last 10 games in right field.

Quality of opponent

The Dodgers are 23-25 this season against teams that are currently .500 or better, though that doesn’t measure the record against teams with winning records at the time of the game.

Houston is 42-25 against teams .500 or better, the best such record in the majors this season. The Dodgers and Astros split two games in Houston on May 25-26.

Against teams with a better record at the time, the Dodgers are 9-8 this season, a group that includes the second game of the season against the Rockies and all 16 games against the Giants. Houston comes to town at 64-42, a half-game better than the 64-43 Dodgers.

Game info

Teams: Dodgers (64-43) vs. Astros (64-42)

Location: Dodger Stadium

Time: 7:10 p.m.

TV: SportsNet LA