The town’s favorite team, currently, is in Miami playing Game #3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Heat so the center of attention today will be the Blue Jays and the Dodgers at Rogers Centre. Two Cy Young winners take the mound when R.A Dickey and the Blue Jays host Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday afternoon.
Kershaw comes into Toronto off one of his best starts of the young 2016 campaign. The southpaw struck out 14 in a three-hit shutout against San Diego on Sunday. The three-time National League Cy award winner has permitted two or fewer runs in five of six starts, registering 54 strikeouts and just three walks in 46 innings of work.
Dickey wasn’t sharp in April and despite allowing three or fewer earned runs in four of six starts this season the right-hander has been fortunate with his balls hit in play and his strand rate. The knuckler has struck out only 25 against 14 walks in 33 innings the first month of the season.
Los Angeles Dodgers (-160, 7.5) at Toronto Blue Jays
Starting Pitchers: Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (3-1, 1.96 ERA) vs. Blue Jays RH R.A. Dickey (1-3, 5.73)
Time: 1:07 PM ET, Saturday, May 7, 2016
Venue: Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario
The last time Kershaw toed the rubber he helped end an LA losing streak. And he did so in one of the more dominating performances by a Dodgers pitcher the last year. Now the left-hander aims to repeat his last effort against what the Toronto media is calling a surging Blue Jays team.
The Los Angeles offense has been inconsistent this year completing disappearing for stretches of game that has resulted in their record in April and early May, a sub .500 mark, of 14-15 overall.
Kershaw takes the mound in an effort to halt the team’s third straight loss and ninth in 11 games and squares off against a Jays lineup that continue to scuffle, offensively, unable to string hits together and put together a complete nine inning performance.
Kershaw has never faced the Blue Jays and the lefty has a history of dominating lineups that have seen little of the three-time Cy Young winner. Kershaw is 2-0 with an 0.95 ERA striking out 40 over his last five interleague affairs on the road. The one Blue Jay that has faced Kershaw the most is former Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki who is hitting .270 with three homers in 63 career at-bats.
The Dodgers couldn’t capitalize on their 10 hits Friday in a 5-2 loss in the opener of this three-game series at Rogers Centre and Toronto took advantage of their mere five hits to score five runs, recording two in the sixth inning and three in the bottom of the eighth to secure the 5-2 victory.
Dickey, who is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in four games (three starts) versus Los Angeles is coming off his best outing of the year after he limited the Rangers to one run over 6 1/3 innings. However, Dickey was ineffective in April registering a 6.75 ERA in five starts with an FIP and xFIP that were larger than his surface .6.75 earned run average.
Toronto continues to scuffle offensively, especially when facing left-handed pitching. As a team the Jays are hitting .246 with a .322 on base percentage against all left-handers this season. However, against quality lefties, those with and ERA of 3.50 and a WHIP of 1.15 or less than are hitting less than .200 with a slugging percentage of .400.
While Dickey has statistical surface success against the Dodgers in his career, he simply isn’t the same pitcher that won the Cy with the Mets a number of seasons ago. Dickey is 1-3 overall on the year and before his acceptable performance against the Rangers in his last start he allowed six runs in six innings, pushing his season ERA up to 6.75 on the year. He was hit hard giving up homers to Adam Eaton, Avisail Garcia, and Dioneer Navvaro. Dickey has all but abandonded his mid-80s fastball relying more on his knuckleball this season. The Jays right-hander Is throwing his fastball only 5% of the time this year after averaging over 15% in his career, since becoming a full-time knuckler.
Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen is 10-for-10 in save opportunities and has been spotless in his last 22 chances, dating back to last season.
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