The Dodgers had a busy day Tuesday afternoon, playing their final split-squad games of this spring training, losing big, 12-1 to the Giants, and beating the Guardians 4-2 behind a strong team performance.
This afternoon, the two more experienced starters of the Dodgers’ opening day rotation took the ball in each game. Noah Syndergaard pitched against the rival Giants, while Clayton Kershaw faced the Guardians.
According to an update given this afternoon by Dave Roberts, Kershaw’s next outing will be on Sunday in the Freeway Series against the Los Angeles Angels, potentially lining him up to pitch the second game of the season. This is worth noting as the Dodgers haven’t officially named their opening day starter, with a two-horse race between Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw.
Dave Roberts said this morning Kershaw's next start will be Sunday's Freeway Series game against the Angels— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) March 21, 2023
That would line Kershaw up to start the 2nd game of the regular season –– presumably leaving opening day for Julio Urías (though official word won't come until Friday) https://t.co/eLBvemu5iM
Kershaw’s longest outing of spring
As the three-time Cy Young winner continues to ramp up towards the 2023 season, Kershaw had his longest outing of spring, so far, going five full innings against a virtually full-strength Guardians lineup, with José Ramírez, Josh Bell, Steven Kwan, Andrés Giménez, and other big names in there.
Kershaw was efficient in the first, third, and fourth innings, retiring the side in order, apart from a throwing error to lead off the fourth frame, which allowed Bell to reach base. The only damage to his day came in the second, as Cam Gallagher drove in a pair of runs on a two-out double.
After his day on the game was over, Kershaw did as he has in recent outings, moving to the ‘pen for a little extra work.
Noah Syndergaard’s 6-run day, relieved twice
Facing off against a division rival, Syndergaard had his fair share of issues, allowing six runs over 4⅓ innings, but interestingly enough, only two of them came with Thor actually on the mound.
In the second inning, Syndergaard’s pitch count began to creep up as he allowed four of the first six batters to reach base, culminating in a two-run single for Thairo Estrada, at which point, Roberts came in to let someone else finish the inning, giving the ball to John Rooney who got out of it, but not before allowing another pair of runs to cross the plate, both which went to Syndergaard’s final line.
Syndergaard came back out for the third inning, and got the Giants’ bats in order for the next two, but left with the bases loaded in the fifth inning, giving way to Mark Washington, and just like in the second, the Dodgers’ relievers finished the frame, but not before allowing a pair of runs to come in.
Only in spring training can you see a pitcher give up four earned runs after he’s left the mound.
An old friend silences the Dodgers' bats
With still a pretty solid lineup facing San Francisco, despite the split-squad day, headlined by Freddie Freeman, Miguel Vargas, and JD Martínez, the Dodgers bats were held in check by a familiar face, in left-hander Alex Wood.
The former Dodger pitched five scoreless frames, allowing one hit, while striking out six.
Early damage against Triston McKenzie and the Guardians
While bats were stifled facing the Giants, in the game against Cleveland, the offense took advantage of strong pitching to get an early hold on the lead, and never relinquish it.
James Outman doubled in Jason Heyward in the first inning, and David Peralta produced his first hit since coming back from the WBC and did it with a flourish, driving a three-run homer to put the Dodgers up 4-0, in the second inning.
Phil Bickford’s case to make the opening day roster takes a hit
In the game against Cleveland, the bullpen functioned like clockwork, with two pivotal pieces in Brusdar Graterol and Yency Almonte both making scoreless appearances, on top of Shelby Miller and Wander Suero shutting down the door.
Now against the Giants, the story was completely different. On top of the four inherited runners allowed to score in the second and fifth innings, the Dodgers’ bullpen gave up another five runs to San Francisco, headlined by the three conceded by Bickford in the eighth, only one of which came after he left the mound with runners at the corners.
Bickford, who is out of options, is most definitely not guaranteed a spot on the 26-man-roster when March 30th comes, and outings like the one he had today will make that task all the more difficult.
Back to just one game per day the rest of the way this spring, with the Dodgers in Peoria on Wednesday night to battle the Mariners (6:40 p.m., SportsNet LA). Ryan Pepiot starts for Los Angeles, against George Kirby on the mound for Seattle.