Los Angeles has won 13 of its last 14 games and holds a commanding lead in the National League West, while Cleveland has lost 15 of 22 and trails the first-place Minnesota Twins by six games in the American League Central.
Dodgers star Mookie Betts’ campaign for his second MVP award received a boost on Saturday, when Los Angeles completed a doubleheader sweep of the Miami Marlins.
The seven-time All-Star recorded his 28th career multi-homer game and fifth this season in the team’s 3-1 win in the second game. His 34 homers are one shy of the career-high 35 he hit last season.
“I’m surprised, but I’m also not,” Betts said. “I’ve worked really hard to be where I am now, and I’m going to continue to work hard. I’ve just got to take it in stride. Whatever comes, comes. Don’t get too high or low. I don’t really pay attention to numbers. If we go out and win, that’s all I really care about.”
The Dodgers will send right-hander Bobby Miller (7-2, 3.70 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. The rookie owns a 2.59 ERA over his last six outings.
Miller, 24, turned in a stellar start last Tuesday with six innings of one-run ball in a 6-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. He gave up one hit and retired the final 18 batters he faced for his first win since July 22.
Syndergaard, 30, has gone 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA in four outings with his new club as he tries to get back on firm ground. He yielded six runs (five earned) over 4 1/3 innings in a 7-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.
“It feels like I’m pitching on ice skates,” Syndergaard said. “Every time I try to use my legs, they slip out from underneath me … I don’t know.”
The Dodgers‘ Freddie Freeman is 10-for-24 (.417) against Syndergaard, who is 1-2 with a 3.09 ERA in six career starts versus Los Angeles.
Cleveland has struggled offensively without first baseman Josh Naylor, who has been out since Aug. 1 with an oblique strain. The Guardians dropped three of four to the Detroit Tigers over the weekend and scored a total of 10 runs in the series.
Cleveland managed just one home run in the series and played from behind throughout the weekend.
“It’s not a great recipe for success. I’ll tell you that,” Guardians manager Terry Francona said. “It’s a hard way to play, especially when runs are hard to come by for us.”
One of the few concerns for Los Angeles is the state of its starting rotation after Tony Gonsolin was placed on the 15-day injured list because of right forearm inflammation on Saturday.
With Gonsolin expected to miss the rest of the season, manager Dave Roberts said right-hander Ryan Pepiot will likely serve as the team’s fifth starter. Pepiot gave up one run over five solid innings in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Miami.
“He filled up the strike zone, got ahead in counts (and) it was exactly what we needed,” Roberts said. “Certainly, the way he threw the baseball speaks to him getting another opportunity.”
—Field Level Media
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