Fresh off of Josh Beckett’s improbable no-hitter, the Los Angeles Dodgers head home to begin a series against the Cincinnati Reds. L.A. has weathered a long storm of injuries and shaky defense all season, but still finds its head above water at 27-24. The Reds may not be the same threat that fans are accustomed to seeing, but they are still a formidable threat not to be taken lightly. The Dodgers have a truly daunting three-game draw in the starting pitching department. They are slated to face National League WHIP and strikeout leader Johnny Cueto in game one. Things don’t get a whole lot easier in games two and three against Alfredo Simon and Homer Bailey.
The Dodgers have to be ecstatic about heading home after a nine-game road trip spanning two coasts. The trip did have a positive ending as L.A. was able to take two series’ against the Mets and Phillies, holding fellow offenses to five runs or less in each game. Simon has had an incredible year thus far with a 6-2 record and 2.31 ERA. Reds’ pitching has gotten the job done, but the offense has been uncharacteristically miserable. Cincy is 28th in the league in runs scored largely due to the injuries to Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Devin Mesoraco. Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips also have not produced like they were expected to, contributing to the Reds’ offensive woes. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw could have a total field day against this lineup.
Aside from the defensive woes, the overall consistency of the offense is what has prevented the Dodgers from another torrid run like they had last summer. Yasiel Puig has been a monster and is putting together a legitimate MVP-caliber season, while Dee Gordon continues his assault towards 100 steals. Aside from those two and Adrian Gonzalez, there have been few other consistent hitters. A solid road trip could light a fire under this team that is surprisingly just 9-13 at home. Monday begins a ten-game homestand for the Dodgers, so now is the ideal time to ride the momentum of a no-hitter into a big stretch of success.
Hyun-Jin Ryu dominated Cincinnati last year to the tune of two hits and nine strikeouts over seven innings last season, and could be in for a similar level of production Monday night as the Reds will be coming off a late flight after playing a Sunday night game. Cincy also has not cracked five runs since May 3, a testament to just how awful the offense has been for them. The odds of their bats breaking out against Ryu, Greinke and Kershaw are slim, but that will likely be the key to the series.
The Dodgers are riding high off a small stretch of success on the road, but now need to translate that winning spirit to the friendly confines of Los Angeles. They have struggled at home all year, but have their three best starters going up against one of baseball’s weakest offenses. A clean sweep should be right at the front of L.A.’s thought process heading into this series.
Commentary by Justin Hussong
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Los Angeles Dodgers