The Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers had something in common over the past few weeks: a slow offense that had the potential to do much, much better. Now, though, the Dodgers are getting hot, while the Reds continue to struggle.
After losing their last six series, the Reds avoided getting swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 1-0 win on Thursday and remain one game back in the Wild Card race. They’re looking forward to the impending arrival of Jesse Winker, who is scheduled to return to left field from the injured list as early as Friday. Cincinnati has an 11 and 16 record since Winker was placed on the IL with an intercostal strain, but a 24 and 12 record when Jonathan India, Winker, and Nick Castellanos bat 1-2-3.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, rose to 1.5 games back from the NL West title on Wednesday and are traveling to Cincinnati feeling quite refreshed. L.A. clinched a playoff spot and pulled off two consecutive sweeps, with 14 hits in last night’s win against Arizona. Even Cody Bellinger got in on the action by reaching base for the fourth consecutive game.
Dodgers pitching is also looking good thanks to the return of Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin. Both went at least four innings in their first starts off the injured list, and they’ll round out a five-man pitching rotation for the first time since late June.
The Dodgers will have Walker Buehler, Max Scherzer, and Kershaw on the mound for the series, and manager Dave Roberts isn’t concerned at all about letting the Reds get a closer look at his aces before a potential Wild Card game.
“We’re going to keep guys in their same slots and expect to win every game remaining on the schedule,” Dave Roberts told the OC Register’s Bill Plunkett when asked about changing up the rotation.
Having Kershaw on the mound to end the series may be particularly beneficial: the Reds just can’t seem to hit lefties.
Friday, September 17, 4:10 p.m. (SportsNet LA): Walker Buehler vs. Luis Castillo
Saturday, September 18, 11:10 a.m. (SportsNet LA): Max Scherzer vs. Sonny Gray
Sunday, September 19, 10:10 a.m. SportsNet LA): Clayton Kershaw vs. Wade Miley